Dante and Virgil cross the Phlegethon, the river of boiling blood in which those who have inflicted violence upon others are punished, and enter a dense forest filled with perpetual wailing, presided over by hideous harpies. Dante breaks off a branch from a tree, which then weeps blood and speaks. In life he was Pier Delle Vigne, counsellor to Frederick II of Sicily, but he fell out of favour and was imprisoned, whereupon he killed himself. The trees are the transformed shapes of those who have inflicted violence upon themselves – through suicide, or through squandering one’s possessions. Body and soul, which suicide attempts to separate, are reunited in this twisted metamorphosis. In his encounter with an unnamed Florentine who ‘turned my home into my hanging place’, Dante indicts Florence for ‘killing itself’ through its internecine struggles.