Dante’s Inferno the 9 Circles of Hell
Dante’s Divine Comedy The Divine Comedy describes Dante's journey through Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio), and Paradise (Paradiso), guided first by the Roman poet Virgil and then by Beatrice, a lady he loved and admired greatly. While the vision of Hell, the Inferno, is vivid for modern readers, the theological niceties presented in the other books require a certain amount of patience and knowledge to appreciate. (They are very hard to understand!!)
-And now – the 9 Levels of Hell: With a little help with our friends with LEGOS…
Limbo • The virtuous unbaptized – those who died before the birth of Christ or without being baptized but were basically good people. • They are not punished…they merely stay where they are, unhurt, but unable to see God.
The Lustful • People who are overcome by lust. • Punishment is to be whirled around forever in a gale of wind – in “the act” but never reaching satisfaction. Their sinful pleasure in life is now their torture.
The Gluttonous • People who cannot stop eating. • The sinners here wallow in the mud while a constant torrential downpour of rain, sleet, and snow falls on them – the opposite of the warm satisfied feeling induced by food.
Hoarders and Spendthrifts • Spendthrifts - These people are the ones who squandered their money in life on useless things. Their punishment is to roll large stones, clashing in head-on collisions with the Avaricious who are trying to go the opposite direction. • Hoarders – these people are the miserly, who hoarded their money, never giving or sharing freely. They try to push their stones in one direction at all time, but are halted by collisions with the spendthrifts.
The Wrathful • The Wrathful or Slothful • Wrathful are people who are constantly angry and the slothful are people who are constantly lazy. • The wrathful are punished by being forced to fight on the sloppy, muddy River Styx, where, mad with rage, they bite each other and themselves. • The slothful must lie under the waters of the River Styx.
Heretics • Heretics are individuals who hold religious beliefs in conflict with the teachings of the church. • The heretics are punished by the three furies in the city of Dis – they are stuck in their coffins and are tortured with flames that shoot out of their graves.
Violent • The Violent are organized in three categories: • 1. Violence against another person. These are punished in the Phlegethon, a boiling, tar-like river. It is guarded by demons who will stab the sinners with pitchforks should they try to come out of the river…they stay underwater, surfacing for air like frogs. • 2. Violence against ones self. These people are those who took their own life for granted, committing suicide. They are now in the form of trees, immobile, and never again to have bodies. • 3. Violence against God, nature, and art. These sinners are forced to walk on burning sand for all eternity.
Fraudulence • People who commit fraud are sentenced to this circle of hell. Dante identifies nine types of fraudulence – each with a different punishment. • Panderers, seducers (Pimps and prostitutes) • Flatterers, • Simoniacs (people who buy religious services) • Fortunetellers • Lawyers *Pimps and prostitutes are • Hypocrites whipped • Thieves * Flatterers are forced to wallow • Evil Counselors in muck • Sowers of Discord *Simoniacs are buried upside • Falsifiers down and burned! Ouch!
Treachery – The Bottom of the Well • This circle is divided into four sub-circles of TRAITORS: • Traitors to Kindred (family) • Traitors to Country • Traitors to Guests • Traitors to Masters
Treachery – The Bottom of the Well • Satan: Here at the bottom of the pit, frozen in Lake Cocytus, is the GREAT WORM in the core of earth. Satan is represented as a three headed monster (a twisted reflection of the Christian trinity of father, son, and holy spirit) each of a different symbolic color, and each chewing on a famous sinner. • RED: the color of Hatred. Opposite of Divine Love. The middle face, chewing on Judas Iscariot. • YELLOW: The color of Impotence. Opposite of Divine Omnipotence. He is powerless – uselessly trapped here forever. The right face chews Cassius. • BLACK: The color of Ignorance. Opposite of Divine Wisdom. He made his mistake and learned nothing from it. It chews Brutus, who stabbed Caesar, his best friend.
What Dreams May Come • Before Viewing: The film you are about to see was in theaters in 1998 and won an Academy Award for best visual effects. It is a moving description of loss and love that explores the clichés of both heaven and hell in a visually stunning presentation. The film makes visual connections with Dante’s imagining of the layers of heaven and hell as well as following in Milton’s example by seeking to justify the ways of God to man. Visual representations of metaphysical conceits and paradoxes are also frequently utilized in the film!