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3 - “Never Broke Faith”: Losing Credibility in the Wood of the Suicides

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  10 June 2022

Alison Cornish
Affiliation:
New York University
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Summary

In the wood of the suicides, Pier della Vigna, secretary to the emperor, swears on the thornbush that has become his body that he never broke faith with his lord. Though he is not a traitor, his body will hang from this tree like that of Judas, who was also a suicide. What is at stake in both crimes is a breaking of the fragile bond of faith that makes communication possible. How is it that people believe one another’s words, gestures, and protestations? and what can restore a trust once it is lost? This suicide violently broke the bond between his body and his soul, of which his body was the truest expression, because he could no longer make people believe him by means of his words. On what bond of trust can the emperor’s propagandist rely, if words and truth, like body and soul, have been severed from each other?

Type
Chapter
Information
Believing in Dante
Truth in Fiction
, pp. 93 - 122
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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