When the poem moves into the Celtic landscape, it leaves the classical world with allusions to the underworld rivers of the Cocytus
He places the frozen river of Cocytus
in the tenth pit of Malebolge, a region of thick - ribbed ice, the lowest depth of Hell, where Judas and Lucifer are imprisoned.
As Benvenuto da Imola noted, the changes in the name of the same river that Dante describes (from Acquaqueta to Montone) parallels the name changes of the infernal river, and anticipates the change in name that the river Phlegethon will undergo in becoming the Cocytus
when it reaches the bottom of Hell.
The waters of the Acheron, marking the boundary to Hell, the waters of the Styx, the Phlegethon, and Cocytus
, even the little fiumicello that gives safe passage across the desert of blasphemers, sodomites, and usurers, (27) are all associated with punishment.
And stirred by his song from their abodes in the depths of Erebus came the lithe shades and ghosts of those bereft of light as many as the thousands of birds nesting in the leaves when the evening or a winter's rain drives them from the mountains-- mothers, and men, and lifeless bodies of valiant heroes, boys and unmarried girls and also youths placed on funeral pyres before the eyes of their parents, whom all around the black mire and the hideous reeds of Cocytus and the loathsome swamp with its sluggish current binds and the Styx confines in its ninefold circuit.
The association of leaves and spirits of the dead (but with no suggestion of numerosity) seems to derive from Homer's famous comparison of the generations of mankind to leaves and from Bacehylides' comparison of souls gathered at the streams of Cocytus with the windblown foliage of Ida, a passage itself presumably composed with the Homeric likeness in mind: (22)
There the souls of wretched mortals did he see along the waters of Cocytus, just as leaves which the wind ruffles on the gleaming headlands of Ida grazed by sheep.
When Virgil and the pilgrim approach the edge of Cocytus, they see that it is surrounded by a ring of giants, whom Dante describes in classical terms:
97-99) and Dante's failure to show Briareos in Cocytus inspire the reader to imagine just how monstrous the creature is.
34-36), and Satan, Briareos, and Nimrod are all present in Cocytus (Inf 34; Inf.
Instead, the novice reader faces complicated explanations such as the following: "Moving down the well of giants, one arrives at the frozen lake of Cocytus
, the four-zoned ninth circle of traitors, in the extremely narrow center of which is huge Lucifer and the three men he eternally punishes" (x).
Buried in waves coming from Cocytus
, or in turbid and black water, thus he depicts the demon Geryon.