ThePower of Theft over Violent Robbery in Thievesand Metamorphoses
Ferrante,Joan M. "Thieves and Metamorphoses." CANTOXXIV315 – 327. Print.
JoanFerrante’s article, Thievesand Metamorphoses,develops an illustration of the power of theft over a violentrobbery. Ferrante highlights this premise by conceptualizing theft interms of a deceptive act that misinforms the victim (Ferrante, 317).Additionally, the author contends that Geryon, “the monster offraud” (Ferrante, 317) wore a human face but had the body of aserpent. Ordinarily, a person whose intentions are known can beavoided however, an individual who pretends to have one’s bestinterests at heart can never be shunned. Ferrante defines theft asthe dishonest appropriation of people`s property (Ferrante, 317).Subject matters like the power of deception over violent robbery,trouble in identifying the patterns of deception, and the beauty ofdeception emerge relatively distinctly in the text.
Joan’sillustration of the clout of theft over violent robbery comes to thesurface when she develops a comprehensive understanding of what theftentails. Ferrante asserts that theft may involve the illegalpossession of money or goods however, it may also be viewed in thecontext of stealing words (Ferrante, 316). Poets, for example, mayuse the words of other poets without seeking their consent. Dante,for instance, steals Lucan’s and Ovid’s intellectual propertieswithout consulting them (Ferrante, 316). In the same vein, Dante’sact of stealing material goods is described as disruptive to society,but his larceny of intellectual property is perceived as justifiableand beneficial to society. Additionally, Joan writes that Dantepraises himself for using his personal sources, but condemns the actsof other robbers. Such an elucidation goes a long way towardsexplaining the high status that deception has been accorded, comparedto the violent appropriation of resources. Ferrante argues that thesin of deception, even when done intentionally, cannot harm thevictim (Ferrante, 317). This assertion further proves that Joanregards theft as a, somewhat, decent form of misdeed. The reason forthis premise can be derived from the fact that violent robbery alwaysresults in injury.
Ferrantealso studies the notions of deception and violent robbery to revealfraud’s subtle, yet somewhat acceptable, nature. Joan asserts thattheft is different from robbery since thieves focus on misleadingtheir victims, as opposed to hurting them. To prove this statement,the writer uses the example of Geryon, the fraud monster. Joancreates a picture of a creature that has the face of a human and thebody of a serpent. Traditionally, the serpent has been allied todeception Ferrante uses this understanding to contextualize theserpent and the soul in one framework to show the dynamic nature offraud (Ferrante, 317). This reflection reveals the reality of thephysical world. People who are cunning can never remain staticotherwise, their intentions will be realized. This supposition may beintended to persuade the reader to comprehend Joan`s thinking in thecontext of the violent robberies. The primary reason for violentbehavior during a robbery is because the perpetrator’s intention isknown. Thus, the victim will try to protect his property eventually,leading to a scuffle and physical harm. The cunning thief, therefore,appears moral when compared to his violent counterpart.
Joanalso develops an in-depth conception of deception and explains why it`s hard to detect fraud. Ferrante contends that fraud, primarily,entails the shift between the pose "that inspires confidence andthe act that harms" (Ferrante, 317). Typically, fraudulentpersons deceive their victims because they can hide their intentionsby maintaining discrete surface appearances. Thus, Dante`s thieves,as described by Ferrante, can never rest or realize a state ofpermanent identity this reality applies to both individuals andpolitical actors. Thus, Joan advances the notion of recurrent flux,destruction, renewal, and no purpose (Ferrante, 317). Thisunderstanding is conceptualized in the context of nature, where theenvironment consistently undergoes change to realize a stableobjective. The goal, in this case, is to attain a state of fortune.Ferrante further asserts that if this plan is followed to the end,the realization of an eternal life, where both death and change areconquered, comes to bear. If one develops an understanding ofFerrante’s depiction of flux in deception, he comes to therealization that the end goal of fraud is to develop one`s act.Deceivers, after a period of constant change, develop the capacity tolead the lives that hide their fraudulent objectives in the mostsubtle ways.
Consideringthe above viewpoints, fame can be perceived as one of the means ofovercoming death and time. Ferrante contends that Cunnizza points outthat Dante`s fame will live on for five hundred years (Ferrante,317). Additionally, Vigil tells Dante that fame can only be realizedthrough continued striving (Ferrante, 317). Lucan reiterates similarsentiments. He says that the “poet’s task is great and sacred,conquering fate and bestowing immortality” (Ferrante, 318).Nonetheless, despite the sentiments that these writers advance, Dantefocuses on deception, acquisition, and change. His writings alsoreflect oppression, confusion, and disguise. Thus, one can assumethat Dante’s intention is to mock the reader with the issue of theexistence of deception in the real world. This approach may be aimedat developing the idea that in spite of the moral guidelines thatsociety advances, there are many ways of climbing the ladder ofsuccess. Dante`s mockery of these notions shows how the persons whouse deception to become successful realize this end. His use of theserpent and man, how the two entities swap, and the notion of manbecoming a beast highlight the truths that have been mentionedbeforehand.
Themultifaceted nature of deception has been proven to cover the illsthat exist in society. Ferrante unearths a different type of fraud,one which entails the use of words. Joan uses Dante’s metamorphosesto illustrate the fraudulent contracts that were developed to promotethe use of usury (Ferrante, 319). Usury, according to Ferrante, is atype of theft that involves the appropriation of other people’sproperties. Dante discusses how the cities of Pistoia and Florencesucceeded due to the use of usury. The perpetrators of fraud camefrom merchant-banking families this means that their theft could betermed as commercial in nature. Moreover, Ferrante asserts that Dantebelieves that property was a part of a person’s identity thus, theillegal transactions that the concerned individuals executed could beidentified with social status. These assertions can be applied to thereal world. Many wealthy people have acquired their propertiesthrough illegal means. Such illegal transactions can be traced, inmost cases, to the banking sector since financial systems can bealtered to hide the identities of the perpetrators of crime.Additionally, Dante`s idea of linking property with the self can beapplied to the physical world since the majority of the wealthypeople lose their fortunes after their schemes are discovered.
Thetheme of the good thief and the bad thief also emerges distinctly.Dante and Virgil are depicted as the good criminals while Vaani Fucciis seen as the evil thief. Ferrante paints a picture of a thief(Vaani) who steals out of spite, instead of need. The victim is apeasant who works hard to fend for himself (Ferrante, 319). The goodthieves (Dante and Vigil), conversely, are seen as individuals whohave a desire to become famous despite the obstacles that lay aheadof them. The actions of these persons are described as their primarycauses of downfall whenever they go up the moat. This portrayal is amanifestation of the manner in which the poor are stumped by thewealthy. Ferrante`s illustration of the thieves can be likened to thepolitical class. Some politicians have good intentions for theirelectorate while others intend to appropriate the little wealth thatthe ordinary citizens have. Vaani can be associated with thepoliticians that steal from their followers to support theirextravagant lifestyles. Virgil and Dante, conversely, can beperceived as the politicians that lie to their voters to gain anadvantage over their wealthy counterparts. The actions of the goodthieves, although well intended, lead to their downfall in the end.However, the persistence of these individuals motivates them to keepfighting.
Joansupports the above premise by showing how Dante’s decision to moveaway from fraud leads him to fame. Dante isolates himself fromdifferent aspects of deception (Ferrante 320). He asserts that he isneither a fake prophet nor a barrator. Also, Ferrante writes thatDante cannot break away from the fact that he is a hypocrite. Thus,to extricate himself from this fraud, Dante decides to engage in thetheft of words and images. However, through Virgil’s counsel, Dantemoves through the various rocks that lie on his path these rocksrepresent the classical poets that were robust enough to carry theweight of Dante`s poems without giving way. In the end, Dante foundhimself out of hypocrisy and being viewed as the epitome of the newRoman civilization and principles (Ferrante 321). Such a revelationis, in a way, in tandem with the struggles of the future politicians.Such individuals lack an understanding of the manner in which theycan position themselves in the political arena, and the ideals thatshould guide their thinking. Dante, in the beginning, is branded athief. However, he elevates to fame after benefiting from theguidance of poets like Virgil.
Finally,Ferrante develops the notion of the evil of deception as beingbeautiful in appearance but an impediment to normal functioning.Ferrante offers an account of a thief suffering from the bite of asnake (Ferrante 324). The author contends that the neck and theshoulders of the thief formed a knot. Thus, the evil of the snakeimpeded the "proper functioning of the mind and the body"(Ferrante 324). Additionally, the "evil" was used fordecorative purposes on the body of Geryon. Ferrante further assertsthat the bite of the snake resulted in an immediate and completereduction of the thief’s body to ashes. The portrayal of evil asbeautiful can be related to the physical world. Sinful deeds areusually attractive or less tedious than sacred choices. However,unethical behaviors lead to the destruction of the lives of peopledue to their dangerous nature. Ferrante illustrates this viewpointthrough his depictions of the death of the thief that was bitten bythe snake.
Ina recap of the above discussion, the theme of the power of deceptionover violent robbery, difficulty in identifying the patterns ofdeception, and the beauty of deception emerge relatively distinctlyin the text. Theseideas relate to the daily existence of people in society. The thieveswho prefer stealing through trickery are usually viewed as being moremorally upright than those who attack their victims. Ferranteadvances various notions in his text through the writing of Dante, asdiscussed above.
Ferrante,Joan M. "Thieves And Metamorphoses." CANTOXXIV315 – 327. Print.