The papacy misappropriates good works to the cult of the dead saints, to images, to the buying of masses of simoniacs
, papal indulgences, and the fattening of the most impure fornicators and hypocrites, etc.
On these points radicals such as Humbert of Silva Candida argued vociferously that simony was the greatest poison, that sacraments, including ordinations performed by simoniac
priests were invalid, and that it was a Christian duty to avoid all contact with such diabolical pollution.
The inclinations of the protagonists of Stephen Hero and A Portrait of the Artist to become priests are, we know, simoniac
One of Humbert's major works, Adversus simoniacs
, dealt with the problem.
A gruesome image occurs to him, from his reading of Dante's Inferno back in college days: The Simoniacs
, traffickers in sacraments and holy offices, are punished in Hell by being thrust head-downward for all eternity into holes in the infernal rock.
Dante scatters references to him throughout the Commedia, which gradually reveal the poet's judgment on bad popes, exemplified in a worst-case scenario: Boniface himself belongs with the simoniacs
in Inferno 19; he tricked even the cunning Guido da Montefeltro into abetting his war on Christians (Inf.