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INFERNO IN A NUTSHELL Locatio n Dark Wood Characters Description

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Dante finds himself here at the beginning of the Dante tries to leave the Dark Wood to climb the Mount of Joy, but his way Comedy. is stopped by three creatures: the leopard (fraud), the lion (violence), and Virgil (who says he was sent by Beatrice and two the she-wolf (incontinence). They force him back into the Dark Wood blessed ladies, St. Lucia and the Blessed Virgin) where Virgil finds him (remember that it is the she-wolf that effectively comes to his aid. The latter (representing Human pushes Dante back into the Wood). Commentators have said the Dark Reason) will be his guide through Hell and Wood symbolizes a state of sin, even suicidal thoughts (Cf. Wood of the Purgatory, but he says a worthier soul will be Suicides); others say it only stands for a frightening, unfamiliar place. Dantes guide in Paradise (Beatrice, who represents Divine Love). The poets enter through the Gate of Hell, the last line of which is: Abandon all hope you who enter here. Note that this message is for the souls destined for Hell, not for living persons like Dante (who is, moreover, a soul in grace). Vestibule The Opportunists or Neutrals They eternally pursue a constantly shifting banner and are stung by Here are people who in life took no sides, neither wasps and hornets while maggots and other such insects drink their blood for good nor evil (hence neither heaven nor hell and tears (symbolizing the sting of their conscience and the repugnance wants them); with them are the outcasts who of sin). took no side in the Rebellion of Angels. Dante recognizes one of the figures as that of Pope Celestine V who abdicated his responsibilities as pope. Charon, the boatman, ferries the eager souls across the River Acheron to Hell Proper (Note the explanation for the eagerness of the souls to cross over to Hell, i.e., this is really where they want to be. This is also the reason sinners are keen to confess their sins when they face Minos.). First The Unbaptized and the Virtuous Pagans They are not punished in an active sense, but rather grieve only their Circle Though not sinful, they did not accept Christ, or, separation from God, without hope of reconciliation. Limbo shares many (Limbo) if they lived before the coming of Christ, they did characteristics with the Elysian Fields (the heaven of Greek mythology), not pay fitting homage to their deity. thus the guiltless damned are punished by living in a deficient form of (Note that commentators describe the souls here heaven. Take note of the citadel whose light shines brightly, but only on a as having failed to worship God or to consider certain portion of Hell (the citadel represents philosophy or human reason their relationship with Him as the highest value. without the light of God), the rest of Hell remaining in darkness. Instead, they relied on their reason or intellect and considered their philosophy and science as the highest value). Each sinner comes before Minos to confess; the number of times he wraps his tail around himself designates the Circle to which the sinner belongs (but Dante does not offer any explanation or description of how the soul is sent to its assigned place). Second The Lustful or the Carnal The first ones to be truly punished in Hell, their souls are blown about by a Circle Dante speaks with Francesca and Paolo and is violent storm, without hope of rest (symbolizing the power of lust to blow overcome by pity for them that he swoons (or one about needlessly and aimlessly). faints). Third The Gluttons Cerberus guards (sometimes chews on) the gluttons who are forced to lie Circle Ciacco recognizes Dante; he illustrates two of in the mud under continual cold rain and hail.

INFERNO IN A NUTSHELL the qualities most sinners in Hell possess: [1] they can see the future and have knowledge of the past (but not of the present); and [2] they want to be remembered by the living. The Hoarders and the Wasters (The Avaricious and the Prodigal) The hoarders accumulated wealth, while the wasters spent it. Dante sees many tonsured ones, i.e., members of the clergy in whom according to Virgil the seed of avarice grows especially strong.

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Fourth Circle

Guarded by Plutus, each group pushes a great weight against that of the other group. After the weights crash together the process starts over again.

INFERNO IN A NUTSHELL Locatio n Fifth Circle Characters Description

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The Wrathful and the Sullen In the swamp-like water of the River Styx (Phlegyas takes the poets The wrathful gave vent to their anger, while the across why is he an appropriate figure for this Circle?), the wrathful fight sullen repressed theirs. Dante sees the shade of each other on the surface (they kick, bite, and butt against each other) Filippo Argenti, his bitter political rival, and his and the sullen lie gurgling beneath the water (chanting a song). reaction (which means he is hardening his heart against sin) pleases Virgil (Blessed be she who bore you). The City of Dis is surrounded by high walls guarded by the Fallen Angels (they also resisted Christ at the Gate of Hell when he went to Limbo during the Harrowing of Hell, when Christ descended to Limbo to take some of the souls there with him) who are assisted by the Furies (they threaten to call Medusa). They bar the way into the city, and Virgil cannot persuade them otherwise (recall that the two were stopped by others before, but Virgil always prevailed). Dante asks Virgil whether anyone from Limbo has entered the city before; Virgil, whose pride is piqued, explains he has done so once before when he was summoned by a witch to claim a soul from the lower depths of Hell (he does not go into an explanation of who this is or why he felt compelled to do so). Virgil assures Dante that a higher power is on its way to assist them. A Divine Messenger (an angel) comes to their aid and the two enter Dis. Sixth The Heretics Inside the City of Dis is an entire countryside filled with open, flaming Circle They denied the immortality of the human soul. tombs in which the heretics are trapped. Each tomb contains many souls According to commentators, this in essence (some thousands) and is fired depending on the souls degree of means they denied the existence of God. Here sinfulness (note that like the sin of the virtuous pagans, heresy has to Dante speaks with Farinata (who explains why it do with the intellect, unlike the other sins that have to do with the will). is that the souls can see the future but not the present) and Cavalcante (who looks for his son Guido Dantes old friend and misunderstands Dantes answer, thinking his son is no longer living when Dante uses the past tense to refer to him). The Minotaur guards the entry to the Seventh Circle. Take note that this circle has a concentration of hybrid creatures: the Minotaur, the Centaurs, and the Harpies. Commentators explain that these creatures half-human and half-beast hint at the doubleness of man, i.e., that he has a dual nature and can easily switch from one to the other. Seventh The Violent It is divided into three concentric rings. Circle Outer ring: Violent against others (murderers They are immersed in the River Phlegethon, a river of boiling blood, to a and bandits). Here the poets find Alexander the level commensurate with their sins. The Centaurs (known in myth for their Great and other conquerors like him (note, coarse, violent behavior), commanded by Chiron, patrol the ring, making though, that Roman conquerors like Gaius Julius sure the sinners remain submerged by shooting at those who try to rise Caesar are absent). above their designated level. Middle ring: Violent against self (suicides and The suicides are transformed into gnarled, thorny bushes and trees. They squanderers) are torn at by the Harpies (creatures with the head of a woman and the Of note here is the conversation that Dante has body of a bird). The squanderers, who destroyed their lives by destroying with Pier della Vigna, one of the suicides. Dante the means by which life is sustained (i.e., money and property) are

INFERNO IN A NUTSHELL learns that the same act that gives the souls pain breaking off a branch also provides them with an outlet for their pain.

Page 4 of 8 perpetually chased by ferocious dogs through the thorny undergrowth (Remember that on Judgment Day only the suicides will not be reunited with their bodies these will instead hang from their branches, constant reminders of that which they did not value.) They are all in a desert of flaming sand with fiery flakes raining from the sky. The blasphemers lie supine on the sand, the sodomites wander about in groups, and the usurers sit or crouch with heavy money bags weighing down their necks. (In Dantes reckoning, Art meaning Industry and Economy is the child of Nature, and Nature is the child of God).

Inner ring: Violent against God, nature, and art (blasphemers, sodomites, and usurers) Among the blasphemers Dante sees Capaneus, a figure from mythology who challenged Jove (Zeus), who then struck him dead with a thunderbolt. Dante speaks with his old teacher, Brunetto Latini, and other sodomites (he, in fact, shows them great respect). Virgil summons a winged monster, Geryon (the representation of fraud: with the face of an honest man, a spotted reptilian body, and massive furry paws), to fly them down to the Eighth Circle. He uses a cord that Dante wears on his waist to call the creature (It is interesting to note that Dante says he tried to catch the leopard earlier with this same cord.)

INFERNO IN A NUTSHELL Locatio n Eighth Circle Characters The Fraudulent Both the Eighth and the Ninth Circles deal with fraud. The difference between the two can be seen in the relationship between the offender and his victim. In Circle Nine, there exists a special bond of trust between them (thus the sins of treachery are also called compound fraud), while in Circle Eight, there exists no bond apart from the natural bond common to all men (thus, simple fraud). Most of the souls here no longer wish to be known and remembered (some in fact hide their identity from Dante). Bolgia 1: Panderers (or pimps) and seducers Dante sees Jason, the leader of the Argonauts, among the seducers, placed here for his habit of loving and leaving women. He seduced Medea whose magic helped him obtain the Golden Fleece. Later he left her to marry another. Bolgia 2: Flatterers Description

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They are punished in Malebolge or Evil Pockets, of which there are ten in all. The bolgias are connected by bridges, some of which have collapsed (as in the bridges between Circles Five to Six) during the great earthquake that accompanied the Harrowing of Hell.

They form two lines and are forced to walk or march in opposite directions, whipped by horned demons (in life, they manipulated others to do their bidding; now they are forced to walk in the direction the demons will). They are steeped in human excrement (to represent the false flatteries they heaped upon others when they were alive). Dante describes this place thus: it is as if the overflow of all the worlds latrines were accumulated here. They are placed head-first in holes in the rock (to simulate the baptismal fonts common in churches during Dantes time), with flames burning on the soles of their feet (a mockery of the Pentecost). Some have also suggested that their being upside-down is a representation of the death of the other Simon (Simon Peter) who was crucified upside-down.

Bolgia 3: Simoniacs/Simonists These are named for Simon Magus who tried to buy from the apostles the power to grant the Holy Spirit on whoever he placed his hands on (Cf. Acts 8:9-24). They abused power within the church by selling ecclesiastical favors and offices. Dante speaks with Pope Nicholas III, who mistakes him for Pope Boniface VIII. Bolgia 4: Fortune tellers and diviners Dante is moved to pity by the sight of the souls here, but Virgil scolds him and says there is no room for pity in this place. Bolgia 5: Grafters or barrators These are the corrupt politicians and employees (Dante himself was falsely accused of graft). Virgil asks Dante to hide while he speaks with the devils, which may indicate that Dante was in

They have their heads twisted around on their bodies. Their heads face backward so that the tears flow down their backs. They are immersed in a lake of boiling pitch, guarded by devils that Dante calls Malebranche (or evil claws). They are armed with long hooks which they use to keep the souls in the sticky pitch.

INFERNO IN A NUTSHELL some form of danger. Bolgia 6: Hypocrites Caiaphas (high priest during Jesus time), together with the other members of the council of Jerusalem (the Sanhedrin), is crucified on the floor of this bolgia. Bolgia 7: Thieves The use of reptiles suggests the nature in which thieves work: in secret. One centaur is here, Cacus, who is not in Circle Seven because of the fraud with which he stole Hercules cattle.

Page 6 of 8 They listlessly walk along wearing gold or gilded cloaks that are lined with lead. Some hypocrites are nailed to the floor and the others walk all over them (Cf. Jesus description of the Pharisees as being like whitewashed tombs that look clean and beautiful on the outside but hold the bones of the dead within). Some sinners are pursued by snakes, which bind their hands and knot themselves through their loins. Others are bitten by the snakes that leap through the air; they then burst into flames and burn until only ashes are left. Then, they are resurrected. Others mutate into new creatures, and still others exchange natures with the snakes, becoming snakes themselves.

INFERNO IN A NUTSHELL Locatio n Characters Description

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Bolgia 8: Evil counselors They are encased in flames shaped like tongues to represent how they Included here are Odysseus (Ulysses) and used their gift of persuasion to hurt others. They worked in hidden ways, Diomedes (encased in a double-headed flame) so they are hidden from sight. partly for the stratagem of the Trojan Horse. Bolgia 9: Sowers of Discord A sword-wielding devil hacks at the sowers of discord. The wounds then Among them are sowers of religious discord heal as the bodies knit themselves back together, only to be torn apart (Muhammad is here, sliced from chin to crotch again (as they tore families and countries apart, so they themselves are with his entrails hanging), sowers of political hacked into pieces). discord, and sowers of discord among kinsmen or families. Very graphic is the image of Bertrand de Born, who carries his severed head and swings it as though it were a lantern. Bolgia 10: Falsifiers (Alchemists, Counterfeiters, They are punished with afflictions of every sense: darkness, stench, thirst, Perjurers or False Witnesses, and filth, loathsome diseases, and a shrieking din. Some run around wildly, Impersonators). Among the false witnesses is tearing others to pieces (because in life they corrupted society with their Sinon, for his role during the Trojan War (Cf. The falsifications, so in Hell they suffer from all sorts of physical corruption). Fall of Troy). Giants stand at the entrance to the well-pit that is the Ninth Circle; one of them takes the poets and sets them down on the ice of the last Circle. Commentators say they represent the archetype of the defiant rebel (Nimrod built the tower of Babel that tried to reach the heavens). Dante uses the giants to represent the disastrous consequences of pride. Ninth The Traitors They are frozen in a lake of ice known as Cocytus. The circle is divided Circle They are distinguished from the "merely" into four concentric zones (Cocytus fraudulent in that their acts involve betraying ) one who has a special relationship to them. They are frozen in ice because they are the farthest from the warmth of Gods love. Zone 1: Cana (from Cain): Traitors to their The souls here are immersed in the ice up to their necks, but they can kindred bend their necks and so have some protection from the freezing wind. Also, their tears can fall from their eyes without freezing their eyes shut. Zone 2: Antenora (From Antenor of Troy, who The souls here are immersed at almost the same level as those in Cana, according to medieval tradition betrayed his city except they are unable to bend their necks as these are gripped by the to the Greeks): Traitors to country. Dante ice. accidentally kicks the head of Bocca degli Abbati. He treats him with savagery when he refuses to reveal his name. He only learns the sinners name when another calls out to him. Zone 3: Ptolomea (From Ptolemy, captain of The souls here lie supine, but are encased in ice so that only half of their Jericho, who invited Simon Maccabaeus and his faces are visible. As they cry, their tears freeze and seal their eyes shut, sons to a banquet and killed them): Traitors to so they are denied even the comfort of tears. Note that the bodies of the

INFERNO IN A NUTSHELL guests. Dante is asked by a Friar Alberigo to remove some of the ice that has formed in his eyes so he can cry. Dante says hell do it if the sinner reveals his identity. He does, but Dante does not keep his promise. Zone 4: Judecca (From Judas the Iscariot, Biblical betrayer of Christ): Traitors to their lords and benefactors Dante is astounded at the size of Satan, who is much bigger than the Giants he and Virgil encountered earlier. souls here remain on earth possessed by demons.

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All of the sinners are completely encapsulated in ice, distorted in all conceivable positions. Condemned to the very center of hell for committing the ultimate sin (Treachery against God) is Satan, who has three faces (the central one, red, the ones on the sides, black and pale yellow), each having a mouth that chews on a prominent traitor: Brutus and Cassius are in the left and right mouths, and Judas Iscariot (headfirst) in the central, most vicious mouth.