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Ugolino della Gherardesca

Index: La espera, El Aleph, OC,Obras completas. Buenos Aires: Emecé, 1974. 610. El hambre, El otro, el mismo, OC,Obras completas. Buenos Aires: Emecé, 1974. 921. El falso problema de Ugolino, NED,Nueve ensayos dantescos. Madrid: Espasa-Calpe, 1982. 105-11. El enigma de Ulises, TR2,Textos recobrados 1930-1955. Buenos Aires: Emecé, 2001. 257. Mi primer encuentro con Dante, TR3,Textos recobrados 1956-1986. Buenos Aires: Emecé, 2004. 72, 73.

Italian nobleman, count of Donoratico, c. 1220-1289, here as a character in Dante's Inferno

Fishburn and Hughes: A nobleman elected mayor of Pisa in 1284. A supporter alternately of the rival Guelph and Ghibelline factions, Ugolino was engaged to make a peace treaty with Florence but was accused of treason when he appeared to have conceded too much. In 1289 Archbishop Ruggieri, whose alliance he had sought, had him imprisoned with his two sons and two grandchildren in a tower, where the whole family was left to die of starvation. The story is related in the Divine Comedy. Dante places Ugolino among the traitors in one of the most dramatic and pathetic episodes of the poem (Inferno, Canto 33). He appears buried in ice, together with Archbishop Ruggieri who betrayed his friendship: both are sentenced to eternal damnation in the same circle. Lifting his mouth from Ruggieri's skull which he is gnawing, Ugolino describes first the ominous dream they all had in the tower, the night before their prison door was nailed for ever, then his anguish as the children around him beg for food, and finally their death agonies and his macabre last hours when, blind with weakness, he cries out their names, feeling for their bodies in the dark. Ugolino's own story ends with the line: 'Poscia piú che'l dolor, poté il digiuno' ('Then fasting had more force than grief). Borges, in 'El falso problema de Ugolino' (Ens. dantescos, 105-11), speculates on the possible ambiguity of this ending, questioning whether it means that Ugolino died not of grief but of hunger, or that he gave in to the torment of hunger and ate the flesh of his dead children. Borges suggests that this uncertainty, Ugolino's 'two possible agonies', is part of Dante's design, for ambiguity is the condition of art. The Wait