Thus was Dante welcomed by Homer, Virgil, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan, and invited to become a member of the select circle in Limbo, the upper section of Hell containing the souls of unbaptized infants and distinguished pagans. The commentators tell us that this account of himself has been adduced as a proof of Dante's modesty; I have never been able to discover who proposed this idea. The poets entered the Palace of Wisdom and later on took their stand on an eminence from which Dante had a good view of the noble souls on the green sward in front of him, and he was told who many of them were.
Owing to lack of space I must confine myself to the literary figures seen by Dante, although there were many other notable inmates of Limbo, e.g. Aeneas, Caesar, and Saladin in spite of his adherence to the religion of the renegade Christian Mahomet who was sent down to the circle allotted to the Schismatics.
This list, with its supplement in Purg. xxii, deserves study; both should, however, be used with caution: the omission of well-known names should not be taken to imply ignorance on the poet's part. As Dante had but little Greek, it is obvious that he had not read the works of all the authors named.
The writers and philosophers in the first list are: the five poets already mentioned, Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Democritus, Diogenes, Anaxagoras, Thales, Empedocles, Heraclitus, Zeno, Dioscorides, Orpheus, Cicero, Linus (v.l. Livy), Euclid, Ptolemy, Hippocrates, and Galen (Inf. iv. 131 ff.).