Francesca da Rimini (1255-85) was the daughter of Guido da Polenta, lord of Ravenna. In an arranged marriage, she wed the deformed Giovanni Malatesta, whose father was ruled the city-state of Rimini, south of Ravenna. Because Guido knew Francesca would have refused Giovanni, the marriage was performed by proxy, with Giovanni's brother Paolo standing in for the groom. Francesca fell in love with Paolo and did not learn of the deception until the following day.
According to Dante, the pair became lovers after reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, and were later murdered by Giovanni when he caught them in flagrante. Dante places them in the second circle of his Inferno, where sins of lust are punished, in this case by the lovers being joined forever and carried about by powerful winds. Paolo does not speak, although his tears are noted near the end of the canto. However, Francesca, who narrates the tale from the lovers' viewpoint, is presented as a tragic figure, yet at the same time one of the most appealing characters in the entire Comedy.
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