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barrator, barrater or barretor (BAR-uh-tuhr) noun

One who commits barratry, which is
1. Persistently bringing lawsuits regardless of their merit.
2. Buying or selling of positions in church of state.
3. A breach of duty or fraud by a ship's master or crew that results in harm to the ship's owner.

[From Vulgar Latin prattare, from Greek prattein (to do).]

"Thus in the second circle nest
hypocrisy, flatteries, and sorcerers;
lies, theft, and simony;
panders, barrators, and all such filth."
Inferno XI.57-60.

"This is Virgil's description of the denizens of Malebolge, the eighth and penultimate circle of hell, in which those who practiced fraud are punished. For Dante, barratry, the buying and selling of civil office, was equally contemptible as the sin of simony, the buying or selling of ecclesiastical office, for which we hear the names of three popes angrily recounted in Inferno XIX."

This week's theme: words from Dante's Inferno, a verse translation by Jean Hollander and Robert Hollander.


For a man to achieve all that is demanded of him he must regard himself as greater than he is. -Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, dramatist, novelist, and philosopher (1749-1832)

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