"Who seemed from long-continued silence hoarse "

(Canto 1, line 63)

Much has been made of the meaning of "hoarse" here. Apart from the literal interpretation that he has been silent for so long that his voice is weak, it has been proposed that the reason for Virgil's silence is that his image has faded away in the minds of men and been forgotten by them, or that Virgil, representing the intellect, has been silent in the mind of the sinful Dante for a long time and only now has awoken again, ready to assist him with advice, but only scarcely being heard.