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Steve Pollack wrote:

> Regarding Inferno canto XV: It seems that in various commercially
> available translations of Dante, there is not much consensus on how to
> handle the "dusk/evening" translation, nor is there consistency in the
> amount of "sexual charge" to the passage. Some translators used
> gender-neutral words like "passersby" or "people" rather than saying
> "men".


I would say that the gender-neutral usage is called for to match the
initial "d'anime," souls or spirits.  Then Dante used collective nouns
when talking of the Sodomites. "Una schiera" in the first instance.
Google gave a translation of "formation" for this word and probably
the military meaning was intended.  That would give the impression of
men.


quando  incontrammo  d'anime      una schiera
when    we met       of spirits   a formation

che   venian  lungo  l'argine,
that  came    along  the bank,


Here is what John Harris wrote in that essay I pointed to you the
other day:

    http://www.brown.edu/Departments/Italian_Studies/LD/numbers/02/harris.html

    Dante and Virgil first encounter Brunetto amidst a troop __ «una
    schiera» (v. 16) __ of souls who are hurrying through the gloom of the
    Seventh Circle. This «schiera» is the first of half-a-dozen collective
    nouns that will be used of the Sodomites in the course of Canto XV:
    «cotal famiglia»; «la traccia»; «questa greggia»; «la mia masnada»;
    «quella turba grama» («that company», «the train», «this flock», «my
    band», «that wretched crowd», vv. 22, 33, 37, 41, 109; the
    translations are by J. D. Sinclair). Dante, as he does so often, uses
    reiterated images to make a point, here, to set off these sinners as a
    particular group who share a defining sin, and so to make clear that
    Brunetto is of this group: whatever his claims upon Dante's esteem and
    affection, he is definitely a member of this scorched army whose
    rubric is Sodomy.


Regards,
    Rick Parker