Paolo and Francesca, circa 1872-75
[via Old Paint]
According to Dante, Francesca and Paolo seduced eachother while reading the Arthurian legend about the ill-fated love affair between Lancelot and Guinevere. They were subsequently surprised and murdered by Giovanni [Francesca’s old and homely husband, who allegedly tricked her into the marriage] before they were able to repent. Dante encounters them in the in the second circle of hell [The Divine Comedy: The Inferno: Canto V], reserved for the Lustful, those who committed sins of the flesh. Here the pair are bound together for eternity, swept helplessly through stormy air. It is Francesca who speaks to Dante, recounting their tale of woe, while Paolo simply hangs limply in her arms and weeps.