Divine ComedyI Inferno
The Juggler Poem Analysis
A place where sinners, who voluntarily chose their sin and fail to repent who fail to repent, linger it what is know to be Hell. In The Inferno of Dante, the speaker Dante, unless otherwise stated, finds himself in the midst of the underworld, despite being alive. Dante knows this journey through hell is one that he must complete in order to better himself. Dante and his guide, Virgil, walk amongst the souls who embody the evils of the world. Dante often feels pity for the men and women he meets on his voyage. His physical journey through Hell is seen as a spiritual one as he faces learning not to pity those who have sinned. Despite the painful sights of the underworld, the portion of the journey that proves most troublesome for Dante is attempting to increase his religious devotion by limiting his pity.
There are times within Dante’s journey where he expresses a deep hatred towards the sinners; however, Dante’s reason for his actions is not due to religious correctness. When Dante meets Filippo Argenti in the Fifth Circle of Hell, the circle of the wrathful, this is obvious. When Filippo begins to challenge Dante, Dante responds violently, telling the shade that he wishes for Filippo to weep and have his “sorrow remain,” This exhibits the religiously correct response to a sinner: being angry and shaming the souls; however, Dante reveals that he recognizes Filippo from life. Virgil “embaced neck and kissed face,” prasing Dante for his lack of compassion. Dante’s insensitivity was not meager; he went as far as to express that he wants to see that Filippo be “pickled in this swill,” and Dante thanked God for letting him see Filippo “mangl[ed] by the people of the mud”. Dante appears to have done everything right in this situation, he acted in a way of disapproval and disgust, however the motives behind his actions are not what they should be. Virgil glorifies Dante’s actions because Filippo was an egotistic, wrathful sinner in his life, therefore, he shall be condemned; however, the actions of Dante stem from the fact that Dante knew and disliked Filippo prior to Filippo’s placement in hell, making his harsh behavior personal rather than religious. Even though there are times in which Dante abandons pity entirely and acts cruelly towards the sinners, it is unmistakable that Dante has not learned that it is wrong in faith to pity sinners, but instead, he is acting upon preexisting grudges.
Dante the Poet presents sinners and punishments to the reader. Many sinners Dante crosses, similar to their punishments, are unfathomable and are deserving of the torture they receive. However, many are people who faced unfortunate situations in life, and it causes Dante to feel a sense of pity for the sinners. No matter how dramatic and emotional the sinners’ stories are, Virgil opposes Dante feeling pity, advising him to stop, but Dante struggles greatly with this on several occasions. In the Second Circle of Hell, where the lustful are placed, Dante meets the lovers Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta. He learns their story of how they slipped into love while reading about Lancelot and Guinevere. Dante tells Francesca that the suffering she experiences with Paolo “makes [him] weep/ For sorrow and pity”, signifying that Dante thinks it is a shame that lovers should be punished for loving more than one should. Love is ordinarily seen as a positive thing; it brings people satisfaction and is a generalized goal in life. However, since these people, Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta, fell in love at the wrong time with the wrong person they get punished for this act. The lovers are punished by the presence of the wind storm, this punishment suggests that Dante views the lover’s sin as innocent in nature, uncontrollable to man. Taking his compassion to a further extreme, at the conclusion of the Canto, Dante is greatly “overwhelmed” and felt himself go “slack: Swooning as in death, felt like a dying body”. Dante is incapable to control his emotions enough to even stay conscious, emphasizing how deeply he feels for these sinners, even though it is not right for him to do so. Dante’s acknowledgment of this proves how genuine his pity is for others, it too illustrates a contrast between the normal societal view of the lustful and Dante’s view of these souls.
Dante’s tendency to pity the sinners he encounters continues as he continues further into Hell. In the Seventh Circle, where those who act violently toward themselves remain, Dante encounters Pier Delle Vigne in the Wood of the Suicides. In this scene, Virgil instructs Dante to break a branch off of a tree, and the trunk begins bleeding and crying in anguish; this tree state is Pier Delle Vigne’s new from. The scene immediately turns somber as Dante realizes that Pier is not only in excruciating pain, but he has also lost his identity. This is the first time in Hell where the sinners lose their complete physical identities. Though it is morally appropriate that those who had no desire for their bodies during life do not get them after death, the situation still places pity in both the reader and in Dante. Directly after ripping the branch, Pier, irritable in pain, asks Dante, “Why have you torn me? Have you no pity”. This question seems absurd to a reader who has been following Dante’s expression of pity, but Dante answers it as he speaks to Virgil; Dante requests that Virgil ask the questions for him, because Dante feels incapable of speaking due to the “pity/ That fills [his] heart”. The exchange implies that Dante, despite knowing that both violence and suicide are sins, wishes that some sinners could be exempted from punishment due to their tragic circumstances. Justifying sinners is not a religious thing to do, but Dante does it frequently, displeasing his spiritual journey.
Dante journeys through Hell with his guide Virgil, and he sees the fate of sinners who have been punished within the different levels of hell. Each punishment being a direct parallel to what the sinner has done wrong in life, however, in many cases Dante chooses to pity the sinner. Virgil advises that Dante does not hold any pity for the sinners as not doing so would be religiously correct. Pity is only allowed in Limbo. Therefore the expression of pity is not to be expressed in other levels of Hell. However, Dante struggles during this journey. Though he attempts to better himself spiritually, he fails, going back to human instinct rather than exclusively expressing religious strength.
Nine Circles of Dante’s Inferno
Dante’s Inferno: Canto XIX
Dante and Virgil encounter the Simoniacs, or sellers of church offices and favors, in the third ring, circle eight of the 19th canto. In this section, there are holes in the ground where the guilty are placed upside down and left with their feet ablaze. I found this canto to be particularly interesting as this circle contains those who commit direct crimes against the church, including a host of popes. In circle eight Dante delivers a stirring speech upbraiding chief sinner Pope Nicholas III on the evils of selling church offices and tainting the belongings of Christ, illustrating Dante’s journey of spiritual self-enlightenment and redemption.
Upon arriving, Dante notes how there are “long rows of holes cut in the livid stone; all were cut to a size, and all were round. They seemed to be exactly the same size as those in the font of my beautiful San Giovanni, built to protect the priests who come to baptize” (XIX. 14-18 153). Dante describes the holes in which the sinners are placed as resembling baptismal fonts. This canto is teeming with irony and religious symbolism as the sinners, who had defiled and sold church offices and belongings, are now being punished through the very same things. According to The Inferno’s notes, the font of San Giovanni was used during Holy Sunday and Pentecost for baptism, and due to the massive influx of people, marble stands were built for the priests to protect them. Dante speaks about these baptismal fonts tenderly and reminiscently, evoking beautiful imagery about the church creating the impression that Dante holds the church and its sacraments in high regard.
Additionally, the feet of the sinners burn from the fire of hell. According to the book of Acts, during Pentecost, the disciples witnessed “tongues of fire” that came to each of them and filled them with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:3). The reason Dante chose to punish the sinners with fire is to illustrate how the sinners, immersed in a fiery baptism, is retribution for desecrating the holy waters of baptism. The fire is depicted as “oiled things [that] blaze upon the surface only” (XIX.30.153). The oily fire could be symbolic of the importance oil plays in Christianity; as oil was used in anointing essential figures and in death rituals. Dante also writes that the degree of heat on the sinner’s feet is equal to their guilt. It’s worth noticing that while the center of hell is covered in ice, there are only a few places in hell where a fire is prevalent with the third ring of the eighth circle being one of them. The eighth circle ties in with the Christian view of hell filled with fire and brimstone, and perhaps this is what Dante wanted for those who directly offended the church.
While entering the circle, Dante sends praises to God, exclaiming “O Sovereign Wisdom, how Thine art doth shine, in Heaven, on Earth, and in the Evil World! How justly doth Thy power judge and assign” (XIX.10-13. 153)! Dante’s praise is him acknowledging God’s omniscient and omnipotent nature and how God’s essence is evident in every corner of the universe. God ultimately has power over everything, and Dante views his judgment on people as fair and just. It’s intriguing that Dante highlights God’s authority on not just judgment but also assignment. God’s power of assessment and appointment creates the impression that instead of Minos assigning the level of hell to each sinner, it is God. Whether He just knows where the sinner will go or condemns them to a part of hell, God has authority over Hell just as He does in Heaven and Earth.
Perhaps the most riveting part of this canto is Dante’s speech to Pope Nicholas III. When Dante first encounters him, Pope Nicholas mistakes him for Boniface, an archbishop who helped organize Christianity in modern day Germany. Pope Nicholas then admits his sins, saying that he valued wealth above all else and to achieve it he sold church powers and offices. Dante then severely rebukes him, rhetorically asking “’how much cash our Lord required of Peter in guarantee before he put the keys into his keeping?’” (XIX. 84-86. 155). Dante answers his question, stating that Jesus never required material goods but that we believe in Him and follow Him. Dante goes on to say that the apostle Peter never asked for money to portray that Pope Nicholas, who put his life in the hands of money instead of Jesus, justly deserves his punishment. Dante doesn’t normally pause to tell sinners that they earned their hellish eternity so for him to stop and shame Pope Nicholas shows that Dante holds the church and its offices in high regard. He goes on to say that he is “constrained by the reverence [he owes] to the Great Keys” (XIX. 95. 156). The great keys representing the church, Dante expresses his loyalty to the church which highlights his redemption in the eyes of God.
Dante, through his dialogue and descriptions, shows that the act of simony warrants a horrific eternity of pain and suffering in hell. Simultaneously, through his interaction with Pope Nicholas Dante is depicted as a lover and protector of the church and God. Dante proves himself worthy of redemption and that he has learned what is truly important in life. While reading and researching about the sinners guilty of simony, I can understand Dante’s raw hatred for the crime. To abuse church offices and powers by selling them mocks the religion and throws away its value and importance. Simony takes religion and tramples it underfoot, treating it like garbage. To partake in this crime is one of the most selfish acts a human can commit and it is a personal sin against God himself.
Renaissance: A Time Of Renewing
The Renaissance was a period of time where great innovations on art, architecture, math, and science were brought to Europe. It was a period of unparalleled growth. The Renaissance was a time of the rebirth for Europe.
This was one of the largest periods of growth in history. It was not only in the terms of educations but also in architecture and the life style. (Pointer) People then lived longer and had better diets, they would have no plagues, which would lead them to have a positive outlook on everything. As there are major contents of the Renaissance one of the major people like Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo Da Vinci is a guy that knows a way to view the human body in a 360 form. He comes up with ideas for the machine guns, submarines, helicopters, and also painted a painting famous for all of time, the Mona Lisa.
Also, Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, which is one of the great works of the Renaissance that we still have in today’s society. It led many people in society to a greater understanding of the world around them than any of the other times in western history. People no longer must worry about everything around them. The people of this erar’s lives were better because this is the greatness of no plague, no famine, no anything. They tend to have a more positive outlook. Also, they did not fear their faith as much as the people before them would have. They cannot see what they are doing with the faith. They are starting to realize that they do not have to stay in one place. They do not have to live and died at the same place, they can move around. This is one of the longest periods without plague or famine it is a period of great positivity and period of people that not only eat better but live longer. Since they live longer, they can do a lot of neat things then before they could not. Plagten had thrown that off. Even though everything was right when they moved around it could create other issues. (Peters) There were many amazing members of this society that gave great contributions to the Renaissance era.
People like Charlemange, Thomas More, Dante Algerie, Niccolo Machiavelli, Thomas Aquinas, and Augustine. Charlemange is the greatest ruler in western history. His name literally translated means charles the great karla magne. He is the ruler of the carligen empire and the first emperor of the holy roman empire in 400 years. The guy that could speak four languages but could not read for his life. Yet he was responsible for creating other things on the renaissance. He is the guy to fine of education. Counts were created by Charlemagne, to control the lands that he conquered. They called the lands that he conquered counties because they were ruled over by counts. Which had brought a new word into western history. Thomas More named the defender of the faith under henry the eighth. He will write another seminal work of western civilization utopian. He will then eventually be put to death well executed over his disagreement with henry and his divorce from captain of aragon he does not agree with henry’s reason for the divorce.
But being the captain of aragon and being the defender of the faith, he has to be the guy that stands of for what he believes in and gets him executed. Dante Algerie is most famous for writing the inferno. The inferno was about his journey, hell, purgatory into heaven. He wrote the inferno was a great middle ages work and his journey. Was one of the great seminars of western civilizations. Niccolo Machiavelli, Machiavelli is a guy influenced by a guy Cesare Borgia. He writes another seminal work of western literature called the prince. Which he organizes the way that princes should behave to those that are there subjects. He says that it’s better to be feared than loved because the fear lasted longer and there is still fear in the subjects and they will bend to your will easier than if you love them. Thomas Aquinas is the most important scholastic thinker of his time. He is the guy who becomes along in the wake of the discovery the new books from aristotle. He disagreed with most of the christian thinkers of his time, that he could discover the truth about how you could discover the truth of ideas. Also said that you could use scientific study and observations to discover the truth of the ideas. It was not just based on faith alone it was also on observation as well. He was the first person to push idea.
Also wrote a book called the summation of teaology which he puts for that view of summa theologiae. So many people have brought great change and innovation to this era. Saint Augustine was an early Christian humness. He is most famous for coming up with the idea of original sin. A lot of churches hang on to that original sin business. Also famous for a book called the city of god, which was Charlemagne favorite book. The City of God, the book written by Augustine says that there are two cities in the world, the city of god and the city of man. (Ariew) The city of god is perfect, seemless, blameless, gloress, and heaven. The city of man is less, sinful, derogatory, degrading, it is just terrible, and awful people do terrible things each other. It is a bad place to be but eventually from the march of time he says is linear. The city of man and the city of god eventually in this linear march the city of god will overtake the city of man. Because of man being sinful and religional sin. Eventually the city of god will take over the city of man and redeem the city of man and bring those low people into the city of god.
New religion was even introduced during this time. Islam is one of the three last great created acts of the Roman empire. Which was Christianity, Barboram kingdoms, and Islam were a part of the Roman Empire. The first one and the last one was Christianity and Islam will come to occupy the world potential for the next several thousand years ago. It will become outside of Christianity the fastest growing religion of the time. It took the roman empire to create both of them. The nice patormoite of roman peace lasted over two hundred years. They will come to clash over issues of ideology that will lead to the crusades and other things like that. (Bowd) The Koran is the holy book of Islam. It is very similar to the bible, in fact there are a lot of stories that are the same. Except for, the man difference is that Koran is also full of the visions of Mohammed that is what separates everything but that is the holy book of Islam. That is one setting that tells a good Muslim what they should do and how they should act.
Overall the Renaissance was a time of renewing and learning and growing for the European society. Many people took advantage of this time and embraced the atmosphere while increasing their knowledge of the world. Many people also worked together and grew as a whole. This era was a very significant part of the history of western civilization.
About Dante's Inferno
In the Inferno, Dante describes a journey where he saw hell, purgatory and paradise. He began to write about this starting at the gates of hell. Hell is described as a series of layers/circles descending towards Satan.
Each of the circles represents a different type of sin; the outer circle is for the least serious sinners and the inner circle where Satan contains the worst sinners. In Dante’s expedition, he sees many noble people in the modern world from Roman history, pre-Socratic philosophers and important people from the church. The Inferno gives an exciting yet horrifying insight into the true origin, nature and culmination of Sin. By elaborating on these three elements of sin, readers can have a better understanding of Dante’s Hell.
The true origin of sin comes from the creation of the world, when Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden. George Stevens a theologian states, Though one’s disobedience the many were made sinners. (Stevens, 592). Humans were guilty of the sin Adam and Eve committed and were condemned for it. Human freedom was lost, and the origin of evil has been embedded in human essence. Even though humans were condemned for it, it is up to each human person to make their decision. Sin is like a desire, but if a person does not have a strong will that is when the person commits the sin, because they cannot reason, their desire is stronger than their will. The people that sin consequently are people that have fallen so deep that they do not want to be close to God but rather they want to be like God. They think they can overcome the authority of God.
In the beginning of the Inferno, there is a brilliant introduction to the presence of sin. The description of sin is considered carnal, and in the dark woods Dante is wandering through, he is trying to save himself from a life of sin. In the Inferno, Dante tries to climb out of Hell by himself, but he cannot do it alone. He makes his way back the hill and that is where he meets three beasts. The three beasts are allegories of the three different sins: the leopard, the lion and the wolf, but from all three the wolf was the most dangerous which represents avarice.
The three beasts ride him back and there he meets Virgil. In order to achieve virtue, Dante needs help, and Virgil comes to Dante as a salvation. Virgil escorts Dante along the journey through hell. As Dante and Virgil get closer to the gates of hell the most horrifying sign reads, abandon all hope, you who enter here (Canto III, line 9). Dante overhears cacophony sounds and those are the sinners in hell moaning in pain. Dante states, Now sighs, loud wailing, lamentation resounded through the starless air, so that I too began to weep (Canto III, line 22).
Dante’s problem is that he feels pity for the sinners and he needs to stop feeling pity for them.
In order to save his own soul from hell, he has to reject sin completely. His journey is a major aspect to the Inferno, the change he is going to go through will be a big part for his salvation, because he is also a sinner. He thinks God is wrong for punishing the sinners but later through his journey he agrees to the punishments they receive.
Humans satisfy themselves in a wide variety of sins, and in Dante’s version of Hell there are various levels that represent the different types of sin. Nice circles of sin are described in the Inferno, and the order of the circles are limbo, lust, gluttony, avarice, wrath, heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. Treachery are the sinners that sin against God, and they are located at the bottom where the frozen Lake Cocytus contains Satan. The souls living there are frozen. Some of those souls were spiritually frozen even before their death. Innocent humans can be persuaded into a world of evil and sin. The sinners take the other people with them. Sinners are not damned into hell just because of insignificant matters, but rather due to lives that were built on a foundation of sin. An example of habitual sin is the story of Paolo and Francesca. The two lovers spend their lives on an adulterous affair for seven years. They repeatedly gave into temptation and lust. When speaking to Dante, Francesca recalls the first kiss she had with Paolo:
When we read how the longed-for smile was kissed by so renowned a lover, this man, who never shall be parted from me, all trembling kissed me on my mouth (Canto V, line 133).
Dante admired their love, but it was a sin. This is the perfect example of corrupt habits and lust.
Each individual circle of sin reveals the culmination of whatever sin that circle represents. One of the defining features of the poem is that each sinner’s punishment matches their crime. Those in the upper level of Hell do not receive as harsh a punishment as those who are in the lower circles of Hell. The upper levels have punishments like burning sand for their homosexual desires, but the ones in the lower levels had horrifying punishments, because their punishments are now physical. In the ninth circle, which is the Lake of Cocytus, people are frozen because they are very close to Satan. The worst thing is that all of the sinners do not even repent for what they did.
In conclusion, the essence of sin in the Inferno is expressed by three factors: origin, nature, and culmination. To better understand the reality of sin, the reader must take a firm grasp of each. Susan Blow an educator who studied Dante states, The Divina Commodia is the outcome of a profound and exhaustive reflection upon the facts of the moral world. Based on these facts of the moral world we live in The Divina Commodia came to existence. (Blow, 123). One final theme in the Inferno that we ought to note is the amazement when Dante sees people in Hell, people who he thought were innocent but were actually sinners. People have dark secrets that only they know but will soon pay. Dante’s view of the sinner progressively changes throughout his journey. At the end of his journey Dante feels no pity for them. In fact, he physically punishes one by kicking him in the head. Dante is grateful for Vigil and he refer to him as his mentor. He knew he could not have witnessed and moved through without the help of Virgil. Virgil almost always was able to overcome the bad spirits, and that made it possible for them to continue through their journey. Dante finishes his journey through Hell, and he determines his soul is not ready for salvation. Therefore, he decides he will continue his journey through Purgatory.
- Alighieri, Dante. The Inferno. Translated by Robert Hollander and Jean Hollander, Doubleday, 2002.
- Blow, Susan E. Dantes’s Inferno. The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, vol. 18, no. 2, 1884, pp. 121“138. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/25668010.
- Stevens, George B. The Doctrine of Sin. The American Journal of Theology, vol. 8, no. 3, 1904, pp. 588“592. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/3153892.
Dante's Representation of Women and the Ideal Woman in the Inferno
When researching the ideal woman nowadays, every website provides scientific studies and cultural research, which all point to the same results: that men prefer a small waist, long legs, and a large chest, with nothing about the woman’s personality characteristics. One of the most compelling facets of the Inferno can be the portrayal of females by Dante Alighieri. He paints the picture of the quintessentially perfect female through the character Beatrice.
She serves as the stimulus in The Divine Comedy. Through the guidance of the Virgin Mary, St. Lucia convinced Beatrice to send an angelic messenger to Virgil to convince him to direct Dante on his expedition into the netherworld and through the different levels of Hell. In this way, Beatrice may be discerned as Dante’s guardian angel and protector. It is Beatrice’s adoration for Dante that lights the way for him to leave the Dark Woods of Error and enter God’s light. Because of Dante’s love and affection for Beatrice, she characterizes his ideal female, and thereby becomes the standard by which he compares all other women which is shown by his descriptions of the female sinners, those who were harmed by other people’s sins, and the demons of the underworld.
Beatrice is only in the Inferno for a short while, since such divine beings only exist outside of the boundaries of Hell, which is described as a corrupt, twisted version of the hierarchy depicted in Heaven. Since Beatrice is deemed by Dante as the perfect model of femininity, all of the feminine creatures that Dante encounters in Hell are essentially her antithesis. In the second circle of Hell: the Realm of the Lustful, Dante encounters historically infamous lovers along with a couple from his own world, Paolo and Francesca. It is in Francesca’s tale of their love, which the reader can see the deviation between the female occupants of Hell with Beatrice, the exemplary female. Francesca describes their history as:
Love, which in gentlest hears will soonest bloom seized my lover with passion for that sweet body from which I was torn unshriven to my doom (v. 97-99).
In her tale, the reader can see a greater concentration on the physical characteristics of love, whereas the love of Beatrice for Dante can be described as a pure, divine love. The difference in the types of love that the two couples share is ultimately drawn down two what their love was rooted in. The love Francesca hold for Paolo was cultivated through weakness, the temptation of her body, which damns her and her lover to Hell where they are to be eternally flooded by wind. However, Beatrice’s love for Dante is rooted in holiness, which helps her guide him on his own road into the light of God.
Dante also encounters a female character in the eighth circle of Hell, the flatterer Thais, as she resides in poverty for her sins. Unlike Francesca, whose weakness was her temptation, Thais’ sin was one of her own intellect. She devalued the station of women in society by her rejection of the feminine ideal and by treating herself and womankind as filth, she was sentenced to decay in filth in her afterlife.
Dante not only juxtaposes the feminine ideal with sinners, but also with those who were sinned against. It is in the eighth circle of Hell in which we find those which sinned against women, panderers and seducers. It is here where Dante finds Venedico Caccianemico, who prostituted Ghisola, his sister, in order to gain political favor, as well as Jason, who was the adulterous spouse of Medea and seducer Hypsiplye. It is the men of this circle which repudiated and warped the feminine ideal. During the Middle Ages, in which Dante lived, prostitution was a common activity and women usually held the blame for acts of adultery. The way Dante respects and views women didn’t become a common viewpoint for a couple more decades during the Renaissance.
The deviation between the feminine inhabitants of the underworld and Beatrice is not only visible in the human sinners as many of the demons which Dante encounters also represent a reverted form of the feminine ideal. Dante encounters the three Erinyes, or Furies, close to the Gate of Dis where they guard a tower. As opposed to Beatrice’s serene, quiet personality, Dante describes the Erinyes as heliish and inhumane (ix. 34) as their claws tear at their own chests, with horned serpents [that grow] from their heads (ix 37-38). With their looks and actions being so far away from his representation of the perfect female, he seems unsure himself as to whether they are actually female, however he bases his conjecture of their femininity based on their limbs and gestures (ix 35). It is when they see him and call Medusa to turn him into stone that an angelic messenger, thought to be sent by Beatrice, comes to protect him from Medusa’s deadly gaze and lets Virgil and Dante pass safely through the gates of Dis.
Although not specifically identified as female characters in the Inferno, the harpies, kin to the Erinyes, are commonly portrayed as having the face of a woman and the body of a bird in literature. Dante describes these monstrous creatures in which: Their wings are wide, their feet clawed, their huge bellies/ covered with feathers, their necks and faces human (xiii. 13-14). As inhabitants of the Wood of Suicides, the harpies survive off of the leaves of the trees and have to impose pain upon the trees in order to live. With each wound they inflict upon the tree, the bark of the tree, which acts as a suit of armor guarding the soul, cracks and the soul is forced to encounter the world which it wanted to escape. In this way, that the harpies make their living by inflicting pain and suffering onto others.
As the quintessential perfect female, Beatrice’s kind and loving nature is the standard by which Dante judges all other females which he encounters. Because of Dante’s love and respect for Beatrice, he shows a heightened regard for females compared to the rest of society, especially considering the age in which he lived. His love for Beatrice was a substantial influence on his perspective of females in the world around him, and also how Dante described the female inhabitants of Hell.
Dante and Virgil's journey
Inferno opens on the evening of fine Friday within the year 1300. Traveling thru a dark wood, Dante Alighieri has lost his course and now wanders fearfully through the forest. The sun shines down on a mountain above him, and he attempts to climb up to it but finds his way blocked via three beasts”a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf.
Frightened and helpless, Dante returns to the darkish wood. Here he encounters the ghost of Virgil, the gorgeous Roman poet, who has come to information Dante again to his path, to the top of the mountain. Virgil says that their path will take them through Hell and that they will eventually attain Heaven, the place Dante’s cherished Beatrice awaits. He provides that it used to be Beatrice, alongside with two different holy women, who, seeing Dante misplaced in the wood, sent Virgil to information him.
Virgil leads Dante through the gates of Hell, marked via the haunting inscription abandon all hope, you who enter here (III.7). They enter the outlying location of Hell, the Ante-Inferno, the place the souls who in existence may want to now not commit to either properly or evil now ought to run in a futile chase after a clean banner, day after day, whilst hornets chunk them and worms lap their blood. Dante witnesses their struggling with repugnance and pity. The ferryman Charon then takes him and his information across the river Acheron, the real border of Hell. The First Circle of Hell, Limbo, homes pagans, such as Virgil and many of the other tremendous writers and poets of antiquity, who died besides understanding of Christ. After meeting Horace, Ovid, and Lucan, Dante keeps on into the Second Circle of Hell, which is reserved for the sin of Lust. At the border of the Second Circle, the monster Minos lurks, giving condemned souls to their punishments. He curls his tail around himself a certain quantity of times, indicating the number of the circle to which the soul ought to go. Inside the Second Circle, Dante watches as the souls of the Lustful swirl about in a horrible storm; Dante meets Francesca, who tells him the story of her doomed love affair with Paolo da Rimini, her husband’s brother; the relationship has landed each in Hell.
In the Third Circle of Hell, the Gluttonous should lie in mud and suffer a rain of grime and excrement. In the Fourth Circle, the Avaricious and the Prodigal are made to cost at one some other with massive boulders. The Fifth Circle of Hell contains the river Styx, a swampy, fetid cesspool in which the Wrathful spend eternity struggling with one another; the Sullen lie sure below the Styx’s waters, choking on the mud. Dante glimpses Filippo Argenti, a former political enemy of his, and watches in pride as different souls tear the man to pieces.
Virgil and Dante subsequent proceed to the partitions of the city of Dis, a town contained inside the large area of Hell. The demons who protect the gates refuse to open them for Virgil, and an angelic messenger arrives from Heaven to pressure the gates open before Dante. The sixth circle of hell is where you’ll find Heretics, there Dante runs into Farinata a political leader. A deep valley leads into the First Ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell, the place those who have been violent toward others spend eternity in a river of boiling blood. Virgil and Dante meet a crew of Centaurs, creatures who are half man, half horse. One of them, Nessus, takes them into the Second Ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell, where they come upon those who were violent towards themselves (the Suicides). These souls have to endure eternity in the structure of trees. Dante there speaks with Pier della Vigna. Going deeper into the Seventh Circle of Hell, the vacationers discover these who had been violent toward God (the Blasphemers); Dante meets his historic patron, Brunetto Latini, taking walks among the souls of those who have been violent towards Nature (the Sodomites) on a wasteland of burning sand. They additionally come across the Usurers, those who have been violent toward Art.
The monster Geryon transports Virgil and Dante across a outstanding abyss to the Eighth Circle of Hell, acknowledged as Malebolge, or evil pockets (or pouches); the term refers to the circle’s division into quite a number pockets separated by means of gorgeous folds of earth. In the First Pouch, the Panderers and the Seducers obtain lashings from whips; in the second, the Flatterers need to lie in a river of human feces. The Simoniacs in the Third Pouch grasp upside down in baptismal fonts whilst their toes burn with fire. In the Fourth Pouch are the Astrologists or Diviners, pressured to stroll with their heads on backward, a sight that moves Dante to terrific pity. In the Fifth Pouch, the Barrators (those who popular bribes) steep in pitch while demons tear them apart. The Hypocrites in the Sixth Pouch need to continuously stroll in circles, sporting heavy robes made of lead. Caiphas, the priest who proven Jesus’ loss of life sentence, lies crucified on the ground; the other sinners tread on him as they walk. In the horrifying Seventh Pouch, the Thieves sit trapped in a pit of vipers, becoming vipers themselves when bitten; to regain their form, they should bite some other thief in turn.
In the Eighth Pouch of the Eighth Circle of Hell, Dante speaks to Ulysses, the outstanding hero of Homer’s epics, now doomed to an eternity among those guilty of Spiritual Theft (the False Counselors) for his position in executing the ruse of the Trojan Horse. In the Ninth Pouch, the souls of Sowers of Scandal and Schism walk in a circle, constantly stricken with the aid of wounds that open and close repeatedly. In the Tenth Pouch, the Falsifiers suffer from a horrible plague and diseases.
Virgil and Dante proceed to the Ninth Circle of Hell via the Giants’ Well, which leads to a massive drop to Cocytus, a fantastic frozen lake. The large Antaeus picks Virgil and Dante up and units them down at the backside of the well, in the lowest location of Hell. In Caina, the First Ring of the Ninth Circle of Hell, those who betrayed their kinfolk stand frozen up to their necks in the lake’s ice. In Antenora, the Second Ring, those who betrayed their usa and party stand frozen up to their heads; right here Dante meets Count Ugolino, who spends eternity gnawing on the head of the man who imprisoned him in life. In Ptolomea, the Third Ring, these who betrayed their visitors spend eternity mendacity on their backs in the frozen lake, their tears making blocks of ice over their eyes. Dante subsequent follows Virgil into Judecca, the Fourth Ring of the Ninth Circle of Hell and the lowest depth. Here, these who betrayed their benefactors spend eternity in whole icy submersion.
A huge, mist-shrouded form lurks ahead, and Dante procedures it. It is the three-headed giant Lucifer, plunged waist-deep into the ice. His physique pierces the middle of the Earth, where he fell when God hurled him down from Heaven. Each of Lucifer’s mouths chews one of history’s three biggest sinners: Judas, the betrayer of Christ, and Cassius and Brutus, the betrayers of Julius Caesar. Virgil leads Dante on a climb down Lucifer’s massive form, maintaining on to his frozen tufts of hair. Eventually, the poets reach the Lethe, the river of forgetfulness, and journey from there out of Hell and back onto Earth. They emerge from Hell on Easter morning, just earlier than sunrise.
Dante and Virgil’s journey taught us that there is a lot to strive for. They sought out adventure, and they went and got it. Dante and Virgil started their journey as guide and teacher, respectively, and turned it to be a very successful combination. Dante ended up eventually dying of Malaria. However, his long lasting legacy.
- Dante: The Divine Comedy. Poetry in Translation, www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Italian/DantnotesInf.php.
- The Divine Comedy. Philosophy of Megaten Wiki, philosophy-of-megaten.wikia.com/wiki/The_Divine_Comedy.
- Inferno (Dante). Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 28 Nov. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inferno_(Dante).
Infernal Love and Faith
Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction and Repulsion, Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human Existence. Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell (Blake 69).
When he had spoken: I beheld the Angel who stretched out his arms embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose as Elijah. Note. This Angel, who is now the Devil, is my particular friend; we often read the Bible together in its infernal or diabolical sense which the world shall have if they behave well (Blake 80).
Both passages present a mediocre but apt comparison to what Blake is poignantly attempting to demonstrate in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell. In the first passage, he tries to create a complex idea, one which creates relations between things. He portrays good as passive, good is also reason and heaven. However, evil, active, energy and hell are more or less not interchangeable, but synonymous. The next passage embodies the complexity of the first one, but presents the Devil as a figure that does not suppress his energy or divinity, but rather, embraces the message of the Body and Soul, by intertwining it with Love and Sex, and Desire and Reason.
Blake deploys the language of contradiction, presenting angels with a negative and devil-like connotation to demonstrate the law of human development. Subjectively, the words in the text break in the middle of the line, creating a caesura, hence, slowing down movements at different intervals to emphasize meaning, or fasten a phrase to initiate more weight. He states, Without Contraries is no progression. Attraction is Repulsion (69), it is already established that Blake sporadically creates a fracture of sorts within this sentence. By separating both lines with a pause, he possibly attempts to create an ominous, or rather dramatic effect in the minds of the readers. In a larger context, interposing the informal and irregular patterns of the lines prevent metrical monotony and emphasizes more meaning. Perhaps, this could be a vivid illustration of the contraries Blake is attempting to demonstrate in this section. Just like in the Songs of Innocence, life is full of joy and pleasure, but within those virtues ensue illiteracy and naivete. While the Songs of Experience has established a social reality, Blake is depicting through these contraries of Attraction and Repulsion / Heaven and Hell, that Energy and Reason repulse one another because they are not a unified purpose.
While energy encompasses one end of the spectrum, Reason seeks another, thereby forming attraction. In essence, Blake demonstrates that Energy and Reason can simultaneously oppose one another, while working for the same purpose. Heaven and Hell serve as an extension of each other; they are both an interwoven part of the human existence. While Blake might seemingly be phrasing these in religious terms, the opposition he might be referring to could possibly date back to the hierarchical philosophy and belief that reason remains on top (Heaven), while passion below (Hell). He is calling for a dynamic union of these oppositions that are necessary to exist within mankind.
The speaker adopts the voice of the Devil which prompts the reader to question whether or not to trust these call for inactions. It prompts one to assume whether this voice is viable and valid in their own rights, or if the readers should refute or debate the legitimacy of his ideas. While the first passage seems to portray the intersectionality between Heaven and Hell, and the Angel and Devil, the second passage brings about the beginning of rapprochement between Blake’s Devil and Angel. To vividly demonstrate this, he forces the readers to imagine the momentary surge of emotions that could possibly erupt when attempting to fuse Heaven and Hell together. He states, I beheld the Angel who stretched out his arms embracing the flame of fire & he was consumed and arose as Elijah (80). This initiative is sparked by the devil as he emerges from the flame of fire and summons all infernal energies to challenge and assert power towards the Angels dogma. This vividly parallels the battle between the Angels and the Devil in Milton’s Paradise Lost, where the devil and his companions were inadvertently ludicrous to believe they could possibly overthrow their creator. Referring back to Blake’s initial statement that Reason and Energy, Love and Hate, are necessary to Human existence (34), he implies that the heavenly contraries which are represented by the angels have been completely dominated by the hellish contraries- the devil, therefore transforming the Angel into a Devil. This metaphorical equivalent of an angel transforming into a devil could perhaps be alluding to the state of mind of the readers. By following the transitional voice and tone of the devil all along, the readers are all consumed in his seductive trance, or even possibly succumbed to his voice of sex, lust and energy.
Otherworldly, the transformation of the angel into a devil suggests a biblical allusion to the meaning of marriage, in which two become one flesh. The intersection of these two souls, and minds into one body attacks the Orthodox position of Marriage, perhaps it seems to consequently argue that by the fusion of the angel and devil’s souls, evil has been transformed into good. Figuratively, Blake seems to be refusing the idea that good and evil should be seen as separate, independent contraries, and instead seems to suggest a dynamic in which one contrary (evil) is transformed into and subsumed by its opposite. He abjectly uses a repetitive rhetoric to display the adverse and reticulate meanings behind some of his ambiguous claims. He states, Good is the passive that obeys Reason. Evil is the active springing from Energy. Good is Heaven. Evil is Hell (69). The phrases Good and Evil are constantly repeated at different intervals in the text, as well as ?reason and energy. Blake demonstrates that while both phrases are contrary, they do not negate one another. Hence, as long as reason and good are transparent virtues, they will continue to reveal rather than hinder the divinity of mankind. The line, If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear as it is, infinite (72), demonstrates how Blake seems to refrain from laying emphasis on the nature of mankind as being infinite, but rather, demonstrating a contrast between a fallen vision and a heavenly one.
While the Angel sought to impose he idea of hell upon the narrator, the narrator subconsciously was bound to hell. However, as soon as the angel was no longer there to impose this reality, this idea no longer existed. Readers are forced to think that the idea of heaven and hell are just manifestations of the desires of the believers (people who think that heaven and hell exists), hence, it is once again a controversial idea. Blake then shifts his conceptual argument to the idea of vanity. He goes on to compare Angels to vain creatures who speak wisely of only themselves, he states, I have always found that angels have the vanity to speak of themselves as the only wise; this they do with a confident insolences sprouting from systematic reasoning (79). He criticizes the analogies of Swedenborg and Behmen, questioning their ideas on contraries. Although Behmen’s analogies are close, if not the same as the one Blake advocates in The Marriage. Basically, the idea of seeing greatness in mankind as the best way to win God’s heart demonstrates that if Jesus Christ is the greatest man, one ought to love him in the greatest degree- of course this opinion is refutable in other religious stances, and could possibly be seen as heresy. In a Christian sense, the readers are forced to acknowledge that Blake could possibly be alluding that any faith worth having, has to be one that can withstand a challenge.
Blake goes on to provide the readers with a long list of ideas, referencing a potential revolution, possibly a revelation that would be freeing from the shackles of expectation. He concludes with a very subtle line which is reminiscent of the Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Coleridge, stating, For everything that lives is holy (82), depicting the idea that without contraries, there is no progression. This phrase reveals the underlying meanings embedded in the previous passages. The reader now has the ability to grasp and understand that everything that lives is holy, nothing is necessarily better than the other, and this includes darkness, evil and sin. Furthermore this unique work embodies the searching critique of ideas and yet, it builds on them. Both passages present the work is a medley of numerous forms, from poetry to proverbs, satiric narratives, parodies of other writers and even allusions to contemporary people. Referring back to the cover image if this poem, it shows at the top, pairs of lovers sitting under some leafless trees, in a very calm yet colorless mode. Underneath them, there are fierce flames blazing upwards, with two figures positioned in a very twisted position (possibly alluding to the confusion of mankind). By gazing at this image, the readers are forced to picture heaven in a higher position compared to Hell. Blake’s idea however, forces one to rethink the entire symbolism that heaven and hell have represented. Supposedly, the blazing flames below may not be bad after all.
While Blake is deliberately rehabilitating the satanic (the pride of the devil which prompted his fall from heaven), he does not advocate for cruelty but rather invokes through the monotonous effects of his words that energy and conflict are fundamental to human existence. The body should be seen as a site to no longer imply an opposition between body and mind or body and soul, but instead a dynamic interaction, possibly a marriage of reason and energy. Hence, Blake does infact agree that the human mind is embedded with self-condemnation and repression, and rather, encourages readers to explore beyond the restrictive boundaries of good and evil. To further Blake’s analogy of the society and the self, versus the psychology of the mind and the self, his poem, London from the Songs of Experience, epitomizes the same thing if the passages were to be explicated in a political sense. In London, he highlights the way in which the society was forged through the placement of the privileged, referring to them as mind-forged manacles (41). This analogy is necessary when explicating Blake’s true message in the Marriage of Heaven and Hell because it is indeed the repressed mind, and suppressed self that restricts individuals from achieving a breakthrough and recreating the meaning of his/her life.
Why Dante's Inferno Should Remain on the Great Books List?
As time goes on, many pieces of literature lose relevance and fade out in terms of their popularity. Dante’s Inferno, although written in 1320, has yet to lose either of its relevancy or popularity. It has continued to be read through, examined, analyzed, and reinterpreted consistently throughout the centuries, which is why it deserves to keep its spot on the list of great books.
One of the main reasons that Dante’s Inferno has remained relevant is because of its theme. The theme of life and death and heaven and hell has always haunted humans. It is a truth that every human will have to face, whether that truth be that they are free or condemned for eternity, or the truth that there is no afterlife at all. However, the argument itself about whether an afterlife exists, is irrelevant. Just the mere possibility that hell may exist is enough to make people contemplate the subject often enough that a piece of literature written centuries ago is still being read today. Whereas people may not like to contemplate the consequences of their actions and sins, they know that the possibility is there, so therefore they have to question it. Questioning and imagining what is ahead, is what makes humans, humans. Which, is where Dante’s Inferno comes into play. In his cantos he describes the nine circles of hell. These descriptions, although fictitious, provide a gruesome glimpse of what may lie ahead in the future, depending on the type of lifestyle lived and sins committed. This interests people because, as they read it, they most likely can relate to at least one of the sins mentioned, revealing to them where their place in hell would be, which may cause some reevaluation of lifestyles. The incitation of the personal questioning of one’s self is one of the main reasons that Inferno has stayed so popular, because, no matter how much time passes, there will always be the question of what happens next, and Inferno describes a situation where what happens next is known, rather than unknown.
While personal questioning is one reason that Inferno has stayed relevant, it also remains popular because of humans’ strange tendencies to be drawn towards the painful and obscene. Humans are usually intrigued by the morally questionable experience of fascination (Denby). It is captivating to people when justifiable violence is committed, such as when a sinner is being punished. In Inferno, the cruelty displayed is all justifiable by the crimes committed during the victims’ lives, and however odd it may be, people can not look away when something of that sort is placed in front of them to observe. Usually, they would feel guilty for watching violence because they know that it is wrong, however when it is used as a punishment for a crime, there is a just reason for the violence, and therefore no guilt is felt when observing. Because of this odd interest, the entertainment industry has taken full advantage of the opportunity and recreated and made reinterpretations about Dante’s work to give the people what they had been asking for. Some examples of media with Dante’s Inferno as all or some of their inspiration are the classic 1935 film, Dante’s Inferno, the television show The Sopranos, and there are even video games loosely based off of Inferno, including, Dante’s Inferno and Devil May Cry (Four Ways Dante). Dante’s influence is so powerful that it stretches across almost all types of media as well as across the centuries.
Dante has remained relevant and popular over the centuries, which some accredit to the vivid manner in which Dante described the torments of hell, the uncertainty of purgatory, and the glories of heaven (Dante’s Enduring Influence). It is because of his influence, relevancy, and the interest in Inferno that Dante should stay on the Great Books List and be taught to future generations. Because, as long as there are people interested and there is the possibility that the book’s theme and emotions will evict a self-evaluation or reformation or contemplation of life, or even just entertains someone, it is worth it to leave it on the list rather than replace it with a book that could never live up to the fame and credibility of Dante’s Inferno.
- Dante’s Enduring Influence | Christian History Magazine. Christian History Institute, christianhistoryinstitute.org/magazine/article/dantes-enduring-influence.
- Denby, David. The Great Books: My Adventures with Homer, Rousseau, Woolf, and Other Indestructible Writers of the Western World. Simon & Schuster Ltd, 1997.
- Four Ways Dante Still Matters Today. READ, 10 Oct. 2017, readdurhamenglish.wordpress.com/2017/09/26/four-ways-dante-still-matters-today/.
Dante and the Divine Comedy Inferno
In today’s society, technology is so prevalent that if you were to go back 15 years in time, you’d probably think to yourself There is no way I could survive living in this time. When I say this, I say this because technology assists us in so many ways that it has become a part of our everyday lifestyle. When we wish to contact a loved one, or when we need quick and on the spot information from google, we instantly direct ourselves to some form of technology to cure us of our instant gratification.
We even use technology to literally keep us alive. We forget that we are indeed primal creatures. We also forget that no matter what we do, we’ll always have human tendencies that cannot be replaced or thrown out such as a mothers natural tendencies towards her children, or our fight and flight response, or how we automatically get sad when a loved one dies. Our human traits such as envy towards a person, being prideful, being gluttonous age all the way back to even Adam and Eve when Eve ate the apple when she had everything and more to eat. Our traits will never leave us. This is where I fasten the story of Dante and one of his most prominent works: Inferno.
Dante and the Divine Comedy Inferno is a literature masterpiece made by Dante Alighieri and is considered to be one of the greatest works of world literature and Italian literature. What this prominent piece is about Dante and his travels through Hell and Purgatory to reach Heaven. In this hellish poem, Dante takes his readers through the depths of Hell and uncovers what scum and evils lie within. It is a spiritual journey expounding the evils of sin through the first-person narration of the aptly named main character, Dante the Pilgrim. In this first section, Dante ventures through multiple circles of Hell, specifically 9 layers of Hell that representing a gradual increase in wickedness, and being at the center of the earth where Satan is held captive after being thrown out of The Kingdom Of Heaven. The sinners, or people being held there in Hell for punishment are punished there for eternity in ways that fit their crimes, or sins. Dante is guided by the Roman poet Virgil through Hell and Purgatory; Beatrice, Dante’s ideal woman, guides him through Heaven. His journey is meant to impress upon readers the consequences of sin and the glories of Heaven. The Divine Comedy is also an allegory, a work in which characters, objects, and events have figurative as well as literal meanings. The composition is extremely religious, with its whole point being that individuals have committed wrongdoing going by what is just according to God. I will only be discussing Inferno.
I am arguing that Dante and the Inferno looks down upon our natural human tendencies in the wrong way. What I mean by this is that in the Inferno the sins committed by individuals are obviously looked down upon but do not take into account that most of the sins are simply human nature. This matters because we forget that no matter what we do, as stated above, we will always have human innate traits that we can not get rid of and should not be punished Don’t get me wrong, even to this day we still condemn gluttony and lust because these traits, in excess, are not something that is desirable amongst mankind. But even though excess of such things are still prevalent today, we do not punish those who commit these acts with eternal jousting of the greedy or the eternal entrapment in flaming tombs. We usually teach people to not do things in excess even though it is apart of genetic code to want something in excess. Not getting off track, the Inferno tells the journey of Dante through Hell, guided by the ancient Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as nine circles of torment located within the Earth; it is the “realm … of those who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellow men.” What I am arguing is that Inferno condemns what we are naturally predisposed to, our innate traits such as gluttony, violence, lust, and things of this nature. This is significant because Inferno veers us away from such things and condemns them as if they are supposed to be looked down upon.
Again, not veering away from the point of Inferno which is someone’s journey on their way to heaven there is a message to be gained from Inferno. Ezra Pound, who was an expatriate American poet and critic, and a major figure in the early modernist poetry movement critiqued the work. Ezra also wrote about the Comedy as a critic and engaged with it as a poet. Pound writes that Dante conceived the real Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise as states, and not places and recommends that readers regard Dante’s descriptions of the actions and conditions of the shades as descriptions of men’s mental states in life . . . that is to say, men’s inner selves stand visibly before the eyes of Dante’s intellect. If you read closely the interpretation is that Dante’s descriptions of Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise as states and not places. A state of mind and not a state of physicality. Ezra continues and recommends that readers regard Dante’s descriptions of the actions and conditions of the shades as descriptions of men’s mental states in life . . . that is to say, men’s inner selves stand visibly before the eyes of Dante’s intellect. For Pound, then, the theology of the Comedy is of little importance; Dante’s poem is an example of how poetry can engage with the living world of history by turning the reader’s mind toward his or her own moral flaws. Moral flaws that can be traced back as traits that we try so hard to suppress. Don’t get me wrong, there is a saying that goes Too much of anything is a bad thing. The good thing isn’t what is wrong but too much of that specific thing can be wrong. Inferno kind of agrees with this in the fact that when Dante ventures through each circle, he sees that the sins committed were of those in excess.
For example, in the poem, Dante and Virgil encounter fortune-tellers who must walk forward with their heads on backwards unable to see what is ahead because while they were on earth, they attempted to see the future by means of which are forbidden by God. Then there is another example in which Dante and Virgil stumble upon those who are suicidal and are punished by being turned into trees that Harpies feed upon. What I’m saying is what if someone was born with the ability to look forward in time? How are they able to know that what they are doing is wrong and sinful against God? With the case of those are have committed suicide, what if they were trying to escape a very harsh situation in which death was better than whatever they were going through? Why is Inferno denying the things that could be just but are denied because God sees this as wrong? Did He not create everything human in His image? Why is He punishing those in which He Himself flawed when He created them? In Inferno, there are vasts amounts of allusions. An allusion is an implied reference to a person, or thing that is a part of another text. Most allusions are based on the presumption that the author and reader both share a mutual understanding of the content and will understand the author’s referent. In Inferno, you can see that Dante is a way of expression for Alighieri’s own opinion about his life and times. Sarah Landas’s analysis on Dante’s Inferno and the allusions therein are that most of the allusions found in the Inferno were used to present a representation of different stereotypes associated with behaviors and attitudes that Dante felt were injurious to Italian society, as well as to the rest of the world.
Each different allusion represents some aspect of political, social, or religious life that badly needed reform in Dante’s time in his opinion so of course Dante would maneuver the poem to fit what he thought needed reform.. With this analysis in mind we come to the question of whether or not this was an actual discovery and journey towards the Heavens or just an opinion? Landas’ analysis shows us that stereotypes exist in Dante which means that people have always had actions considered ordinary in the medieval times. What this also means is that Dante also wished to express his personal opinions about certain events of his time, and he wished to expose the political beliefs of his party without the risk of personal persecution that might have arisen if he had used some other means of expression. So maybe Inferno isn’t even about a journey to the Heavens but about slight shade and a couple of shots at the Italian heads of his time. This also means that this isn’t only about God and his condemnation of human tendencies but also about Dante and his obsession with the flaws of those above him. This still does not take away from the fact that our human tendencies are looked down upon and punished without mercy. We simply know now that it is also Dante who, in a way, is jealous of those above him and searches for a way to reveal the political viewpoints of his party without the risk of persecution that could have happened if he had used some other means of expression.
Dante himself, without himself acknowledging it, was a hypocrite. His supposed reason of writing Inferno was to show the story of a man who has strayed from the straight and narrow path to God, he has to be shown the consequences of his actions. Although the reason for him being in Hell is to show how bad things are if you don’t follow the right path, the fact that he is there means he has sinned to some extent. So for him to look down on another sinner shows hypocrisy because there is a verse in The Bible that addresses this with John 8:7 saying …He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. No one was able to cast a stone because everyone is sinner.
Before I continue, I would like to describe how there are displays of hypocrisy in Inferno. What I mean by this is that there are times in which Dante displays some of the sins that are condemned in Hell against the inhabitants of Hell. Is not this poem a religious one with Christian tendencies? Is there not a verse in the Book of Matthew that talks about treating others as you would like to be treated. The verse goes So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 7:12). In some ways Dante also throws up a front to display his empathy and sadness towards to inhabitors of Hell. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of his acts are genuine because Dante does not know all of the stories of the individuals who are in Hell, he only see their punishment which can be quite considering what they have to go through. In Inferno, Dante can be seen crying and showing pity to the damned multiple times throughout. This is a hint of Dante’s Humanity. Dante’s most known cry comes from when he hears the tragic story of Paolo and Francesca and comments …Francesca, your afflictions move me to tears of sorrow and of pity (v, 116-117), a statement promptly followed by Dante’s fainting. But we cannot look past this hypocrisy. Looking more into Inferno we can see Dante’s rage and rants. Here is a discussion between Dante and one of the sinners known as Filippo Argenti, Dante to Filippo Argent: I’ve come, but I don’t star; but who are you, who have become so ugly? Filippo answers: You can see-I’m one who weeps. Dante then replies saying harshly In weeping and in grieving, accursed spirit, may you long remain; though you’re disguised by filth, I know your name. And when Filippo tries to stretch his hands towards the boat in which they were in Virgil tells Filippo Be off there with the other dogs! and then proceeds to kiss Dante’s face proclaiming Indignant soul, blessed is she who bore you in her womb!” (Inf. VIII, 34-42) Virgil is celebrating Dante’s rage against Filippo. I thought being Christian and being of God was all about doing to others what you want done to you regardless of what the sinner has done. Does Dante want to be treated harshly as he does the same to others? Did not Jesus Himself sit at the table with sinners? Who is Dante to treat others harshly? This just goes to show that Dante himself has those innate traits that the poem tries so hard to condemn; hatred, rage, and anger. In Inferno you can see that Dante does not even stop here. You can also read Dante arguing with Farinata, ranting against Pope Nicholas III, threatening Bocca with violence, and even breaking a promise to Fra Alberigo. After each round of righteous indignation, Virgil claps Dante on the back and congratulates him for putting yet another sinner in his place. What kind of hypocrisy is this?
The big revelation is that Dante is human, not some holier-than-thou spirit. He, too, is capable of sin. When worked up, Dante can lose it with the most wrathful of the Wrathful and mess with words’ meanings just like those filthy falsifiers. The only difference is that Dante is doing it for the love of God, against people already judged as evil. The hero Dante is supposed to be is now Dante the punisher. Unfortunately, Dante’s hasty pity shows a weakness of judgment and later, Dante’s damning rhetoric is kind of hypocritical. My next point is Inferno even biblically accurate? If not this can mean that everything therein isn’t accurate and can be used as an excuse that the innate traits we possess are not damnation-worthy. What I mean by this is that if Hell is not an accurate description that can be traced back to the actual creation that God may have built, then how do we know for that the sins described in Inferno are actually punished in Hell? Dante presents different levels of suffering in hell. For Dante, examples of punishment range from walking endlessly in circles to extremes such as being immersed in boiling blood. However hell ultimately works, the Bible is clear that it is a place of great torment for all and does not make such distinctions of punishment. Aside from the blatantly obvious fact that Purgatory is an unbiblical doctrine, the idea that sinners have another shot at salvation after death is in direct contradiction to the Bible. In the Bible it is clear that we must seek the Lord while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6) and that once we die, we are destined to judgment (Hebrews 9:27). In addition to this, the idea that a sinner can mend his ways before or after death is also contradictory to that of the Bible because the bible says that only Christ can overcome the sin nature and impart to believers a completely new nature (2 Corinthians 5:17). What could this mean? This could mean everything that Inferno could be completely wrong. This could also mean that God actually knows that we have the traits that are condemned in Inferno and is willing to forgive those because He knows us because He created us. Dante’s depiction of hell involved penalties such as people wallowing in mire, immersed in boiling blood, having heads on backwards, and chasing
Dante's Loss of Pity in Dante's Inferno
Dante’s Inferno, written in the 14th century as one of the three parts of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, is a journey through the various layers of Hell, led by Dante himself and Virgil, the Roman poet. Dante himself, wrote this set of poems to illustrate the consequences of specific sins one can make on Earth, writing the Inferno as a warning to those who do not follow Christianity and its values. As a way to encompass the moral behavior the Bible envisions, Dante travels through the circles of hell and at first struggles to not feel pity for the sinners; however, as he progresses deeper into hell, Dante gains wisdom, and consequently, loses all feelings of pity.
By examining Dante’s meetings with the souls of Francesca da Rimini and Count Ugolino, we will see that the reason the author portrays Dante’s loss of pity as a sign of deepening wisdom is to show that when one concentrates on their religious devotion rather than falling to human instincts as a result of all the provocations in life, they will find themselves and their moral values through religion and in that way avoid going to Hell.
Dante’s journey begins by entering the dark woods, where he not only got lost, but symbolically lost himself; and therefore, his moral values. Dante’s moral values got covered by ignorance, and therefore, ignorance toward religion itself. As a result of losing himself, and therefore, his religious devotion, when he came across Francesca, the famous lover, her story of death due to lust caused him to have painful tears of pity to my eyes (51). Dante’s tears symbolize his inability to control his emotions, and therefore, his disconnect from his moral values, due to Francesca’s story of love, a subject usually looked upon with positivity in the real world. However, his encounter with Francesca shows that the lack of self-pity of the sinners is the reason for Dante’s pity in the Inferno. Dante was unable to form a barrier between himself and the sinner, as each sinner tries to create pity for themselves as a result of their torture. Dante falling for Francesca’s story represents him falling to human instincts rather than his moral values, which shows his lack of wisdom at the beginning levels of the Inferno.
As Dante progresses through the circles of Hell, Virgil keeps reminding him that no compassion should be felt for the damned souls, and as Dante comes to the realization, his religious devotion strengthens, and consequently, his human instincts weaken. During his interaction with Count Ugolino, Count Ugolino explains how him and his children were imprisoned and starved by the Archbishop Ruggieri, causing even Dante to feel pity saying shame upon the people of that fair land (321), however, this pity was of a different kind, not for the sinner but rather the children. Consequently, Dante’s loss of pity towards the sinner can be seen by Count Ugolino saying to Dante that If the thought of what my heart was telling me does not fill you with grief, how cruel you are! If you’re not weeping now, do you ever weep? (319), expressing his anger for the lack of pity in Dante. This lack of pity represents just how disconnected Dante became from human instincts, as a human instinct would be to feel pity for a man who lost his children, but being a sinner himself, it was not right to pity a man who betrayed his country and then supposedly ate his children. Therefore, this interaction with Count Ugolino shows Dante’s loss of human instincts as he became closer to his religious devotion, which led to the deepening of his wisdom.
The lesson Dante wants the reader to learn is that no one should feel pity for those in Hell, as they are there for a reason. The reason Dante felt pity at the beginning was because as he entered the dark woods, he meanwhile not only lost himself, but also lost his moral values, and therefore, religion devotion. As his moral values were lost, he could now feel pity for the damned souls, such as Francesa, even though his moral self would not do so. However, as the Canto’s progress and Dante’s religious devotion strengthens, as a result of Virgil’s teachings, he gains more wisdom and no longer feels pity for Count Ugolino.
Therefore, Dante’s lesson is that a person who is surrounded by sinners their whole life should concentrate on their religious devotion, and by doing so, limiting their pity for those who have committed sins. Overall, I agree that it was right for Dante to lose pity for the souls. The reason being, is that Dante’s vision for his poems was to teach moral lessons from the Bible. The Bible, in this case, explains that no compassion should be felt for those who have sinned, as the time to have mercy for these people and try to help them is on the Earth, and that once they have passed on, it is their time for justice. Which is why I would have to agree that it was right for Dante to lose his pity, as at the end of the day, Dante wanted to teach people about lessons from the Bible; and therefore, it is only fair that he himself does not maintain sympathy or pity for the souls in Hell, as he himself should exemplify a true Christian.