Dante's interpretation of Hell
Granted, throughout the epic, it is evident that Dante has his own interpretation of justice and who should pay it. It is also evident that Dante doesn’t like the Greeks, for several Greek heroes appear in the different circles of hell even though it seems like they’re in hell for the sole reason that Dante didn’t like them. In the start of canto twenty six, The Evil Counselors, in the Eighth Circle of Hell, Dante realizes the Greek hero, Odysseus, or Ulysses, and Diomede are in the form of fires.
Both are said to be there because they helped on the attack in the Trojan War, and Ulysses created the idea of the horse. However, Ulysses, from The Odyssey, is a hero; in fact, he doesn’t deserve to be placed there in the Eighth Circle of Hell.
In like manner, its pequliar to read the Ulysses Dante has created, for he is portrayed very differently from the Ulysses in The Odyssey. Both are characterized and made out to be two completely different characters. Ulysses, in The Odyssey does everything in his power to be with his family, yet not only that but Ulysses is in despair because of the separation he endures from being away from his family for several years. Additionally, he leaves Ogygia when he has the chance to and undertakes a dangerous journey home; overall, he is a family-man. On the other hand, in Dante’s Inferno, Ulysses died because he left home to embark on a journey in order to learn and experience different customs. Dante characterized him so differently, yet it wouldn’t be in Ulysses’ character to leave his family behind. Dante could have gotten away with placing Ulysses in hell despite the fact that he was courageous and a hero but to write him in a way that doesn’t fit his true nature, to misrepresent his personality shows his distaste for Greeks.
Furthermore, in Canto 30, The Falsifiers, Dante’s interpretation of Hell, and how its justice should work, becomes strongly relevant as Virgil and Dante near the center where Satan resides. From the start, its evident that Dante created a system in which he organized an order of how he interprets the magnitude of the sin. There he places evil impersonators, counterfeiters, and false witnesses in the last patch of circle eight which is only a circle away from Satan himself, yet according to Dante’s placement, a false witness is far worse than a murderer who is placed in the Sixth Circle of Hell. Bearing false witness is the same as lying, and though lying is still wrong, it does not compare to the act of murder.
Moreover, Allen Mandelbaum, author of Lectura Dantis: Inferno: A Canto-by-Canto Commentary, explains that Dante wrote Hell like the human body. First, Dante and Virgil descended into Limbo which is the equivalence to the head since it represents the memory humanity has of the ancient world. Then they reach the City of Dis where there is a river of blood, the heart, and following that is the Seventh Circle of Hell, violence, which relates to the chest where he united both the intellectual and animal natures. Additionally, whenever a new part of Hell opens up, and Dante needs to be transported into the next circle, that part refers to a division of the human body. The walls of the City of Dis means to be the ribcage while Cocytus is the large intestine. Throughout the Inferno, Dante relates sin and its consequences with malfunction within the body and disease. The Eighth Circle of Hell corresponds to the belly where there is a parallel between food digestion and the mind, for truth is the food of the soul, fraud its poison; their concentric circles have an obvious relation to the labyrinth of the intestines (Mandelbaum, 398).
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Granted, throughout the epic, it is evident that Dante has his own interpretation of justice and who should pay it. It is also evident that Dante doesn’t like the Greeks, […]