Paolo Malatesta

Paolo Malatesta was one of the Damned which Dante must absolve for the "Forbidden Love" and "The Damned" achievement/trophy.


"He committed adultery with Francesca, the wife of his brother. He too spends eternity yearning for his beloved, enveloped in the tumultuous winds of lust."


Paolo Malatesta (1246-1285) was the third son of an Italian nobleman: Malatesta da Verucchio, lord of the city of Rimini. Young, brave and handsome, he was married to the Countess Orabile Beatrice of Ghiaggiolo, with whom he had two sons. He was also made lord of the city of Florence by Pope Martin IV. In this capacity, he met the historic Dante Alighieri.

Guido I da Polenta, lord of the city of Ravenna, was at war with the Malatesta family over control of the city. To finally establish peace and preserve his power in Ravenna, the lord arranged for his beautiful daughter Francesca to marry the powerful, but ugly and crippled Giovanni Malatesta, Paolo's elder brother.

According to legend, Francesca was to marry Giovanni by proxy (someone would stand in for Giovanni at the wedding, but the marriage would be legally binding). In this instance, Paolo was chosen to stand in for him as groom. Unaware that this was to be a proxy marriage, upon seeing the handsome young nobleman Francesca fell in love instantly and was delighted at the thought of "marrying" him. Paolo himself also fell in love at first sight, but out of duty went through with the proxy marriage. It was not until the day after the wedding, when Francesca met her real husband, that she realized what happened and was bitterly disappointed.

Still, due to their mutual attraction Francesca and Paolo began an affair behind the backs of their spouses. This liaison lasted for 10 years until 1285, when Giovanni came home one day and caught the two lovers together in bed. Enraged at their betrayal, Giovanni slew both Paolo and Francesca where they laid.

Upon discovering the truth behind Paolo's death, Paolo's sons, when grown, avenge their father by killing Giovanni.

Dante's Inferno[]

The object of Francesca's affection, Paolo Malatesta also resided in the circle of Lust, forever separated from his love. Once Dante breached the Lust Storm summoned by Cleopatra and entered The Carnal Tower, he could find Paolo cowering on an outside ledge, talking about Francesca and justifying their affair. Like all of The Damned souls, Dante had the option of Absolving or Punishing him. If Dante already found and absolved Francesca, absolving Paolo will earn the player an Achievement.


"There's no greater sorrow than to recall the happy time."

"We will raise our child secretly, Francesca!"

"Caina awaits our killer."

"Francesca was betrothed to my brother, Giovanni!"

"It was to solidify peace between our families."

"I married her to my brother by proxy."

"My brother killed us both with his own hands."

"Your lips are so soft, my sweet Fracesca..."

"My brother Giovanni will never know about us."

"I knew you would be mine from the moment I saw you!"

"Francesca, your father blackmailed me!"

"I didn't want to perform the ceremony!"

*Grabbed by Dante* "Have you never loved, mortal being?"

*Grabbed by Dante* "Don't make Francesca marry my brother!"

*Grabbed by Dante* "It was not a passing romance; it was our destiny!"

*Grabbed by Dante* "I betrayed my brother, my own flesh and blood!"

"Please, don't take me fr-" *Slain by Dante*

*Absolved by Dante* "Everlasting life..."


  • In The Inferno, Dante and Virgil behold the shade of Paolo Malatesta in the second circle of Hell, alongside his lover, Francesca, both damned for their lust. When Dante wishes to question them, they are temporarily permitted to leave the storm of lust driving them around the circle. Francesca goes on to tell Dante her tragic tale of lust. She and Paolo are some of the few souls in Hell Dante feels compassion for; Dante is so saddened by their fate that he faints, bringing an end to the canto.
  • Although Malatesta was his real surname, the word Malatesta means "Evil Head" in Italian, which could also be reflective of the sinful thoughts that spurred Paolo into the affair.
  • If the player absolves both Paolo and Francesca, the "Forbidden Love" achievement/trophy is earned. If the player has punished either of the lovers, the "Forbidden Love" achievement will be locked out.
  • It is possible that Paolo and Francesca are deliberately separated in the game as an additional punishment for the sin of Lust.
  • One of Paolo's lines in the game suggests that he had fathered a child with Francesca or intended to, although this is not mentioned either in the original book, the historic legend or in Francesca's own lines in the game.
  • According to Dante's composition, initially true to their respective spouses Paolo and Francesca were inspired to consummate their lust after reading about the adulterous affair between Queen Guinevere (wife of King Arthur of Camelot) and the knight Sir Lancelot. Lancelot himself is mentioned in the game as a warrior Lucifer had once employed to try to free him from Hell.
Condemned Souls
Pontius Pilate ·  Orpheus ·  Electra ·  Francesca da Polenta ·  Paolo Malatesta ·  Semiramis ·  Ciacco ·  Clodia
Tarpeia ·  Gessius Florus ·  Fulvia ·  Boudica ·  Hecuba ·  Filippo Argenti ·  Emperor Frederick II
Cavalcante de Cavalcanti ·  Farinata degli Uberti ·  Attila the Hun ·  Pietro della Vigna ·  Brunetto Latini
Guido Guerra ·  Thaïs ·  Tiresias ·  Myrrha ·  Fra Alberigo ·  Mordred ·  Count Ugolino