"Master, what shades are these who lie
buried in these chests and fill the air
with such a painful and unending cry?"

"These are the arch-heretics of all cults,
with all their followers," he replied, "Far more
than you would think lie stuffed into these vaults."

-Inferno Canto IX, II. 121-126


The sixth circle of Hell is the endless torment of the Heretics, whom Dante defines as those of intellectual stubbornness They come across a vast expanse of burning tombs that echo with screams of those that lie within. Dante comes to have a conversation with a few of these poor souls. Once again, these are people from Dante's life, Farinata delgi Uberti, a member of the rival family Dante's was opposed to, the Ghebillines. He begins speaking politics with Farinata when another wrath shows up, Cavalcante de Cavelcanti who inquires about his son, Guido Cavelcanti. He asks Dante:

"And if" it cried, "you travel
through this dungeon of the blind by power of genius,
where is my son? Why is he not with you?"

Dante replies, beginning to understand the meaning and purpose behind this level of Hell and those qualities held by the anguished souls who dwell there. He says to the spirit, mentioning the son in the past tense which the father misunderstands as Dante speaking of his death:

"Not by myself am I borne
this terrible way. I am led by him who waits there,
and whom perhaps your Guido held in scorn."

As this exchange is going on, Farinata is continuing to rationalize and justify his actions back in the Florentine scene. It is the purpose of this dialogue, to understand that heresy was simply willful ignorance of a better way. These two men, who had little to do with one another and speak of different things, both show one thing. The idea that pride and selfish enslavement to egotistical thinking are the backbone of what encompasses the sin of heresy.