Dante Alighieri “The Inferno” ( from The Divine Comedy )

Dante Alighieri “The Inferno” ( from The Divine Comedy )
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Inferno, which means ‘Hell’ in Italian, is the first part of Dante Alighieri’s epic poem ‘Divine Comedy’. In the poem Dante explains his journey through Hell. The Hell described by Dante is based on different concepts including that of the Catholic Doctrine of that time but Dante has added some details which can be regarded exclusively as Dante’s own. The poem explains Hell as nine circles of suffering. Each circle of Hell represents a specific sin and the people who commit those sins are sent to those respective circles of Hell. In the poem, Dante visits all the circles of Hell one by one and comprehensively explains what he witnesses there. Dante is guided by a character named Virgil who shows Dante all the circles of Hell and explains everything to him comprehensively.
The philosophy behind the work of Dante is based on the Bible, Roman Catholicism, mythology and the traditions of the Middle Ages. The poem can be regarded as completely truthful where Dante has sketched his work based on the Bible, however the poem diverts from being truthful when it is based on sources other than the Bible.

One character that is shown to be in Hell in the poem is Capaneus and the reason behind him being in Hell is blasphemy. This is one of the reasons that would be approved by the Catholic church of that time. According to the poem, people who are blasphemers i.e. violent towards God and those who are sodomites i.e. violent against nature reside in the inner ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell. The inner ring of the Seventh Circle of Hell has been described as a desert of flaming sand with fiery flakes coming down from the sky. Those who were violent against God would lie on the flaming sand while those who were violent against nature would wander around in groups. The character of Capaneus is the classical warrior who was sent to this circle of Hell for blasphemy against Zeus. Even though the reason why a character is sent to Hell may be approved by the Catholic Church but the punishments given to the sinners are based mostly on Dante’s own imagination.

Another character from the Inferno who seems to be in Hell for reasons that would not suffice for the Catholic Church to approve the characters presence in Hell is Virgil. According to the poem, Virgin is from the first circle of hell which is also called Limbo. In Limbo, those who are not baptized and those who did not accept Christ even if they are not sinful are sent. Limbo, despite being a part of Hell, is a deficient form of Heaven. It includes green fields and a castle. The reason behind these people being in Hell is simply because they did not accept Christ even if they did not commit any of the deadly sins which may have qualified them for Hell. At this point, it can be said that Dante was getting even and put forward his imagination and his point of view regarding Hell and the sinners who would be sent to Hell. Catholic Church of that time would not approve of the reasons for which these people were sent to Hell. Other people who are shown in this circle of Hell by Dante are; the first doctor Hippocrates, the philosopher Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Averroes and so many others.

In the Inferno, Dante has provided comprehensive detail regarding the punishments that sinners are subjected to in the Hell. The torments and agonies of hell described by Dante are not based on the Bible but are derived completely from the sharp imagination of Dante. There are a number of differences between Dante’s Inferno and the depiction of hell in the Bible. One of the most prominent differences is that of the levels of Hell. According to Dante, there are nine circles of Hell which represent different sins where sinners are punished in a manner in accordance with their crimes. There is no description regarding varying levels of punishment in hell in the Bible and there is also no description regarding different levels of severity of sins. The universal punishment for those who do not accept Christ as Savior is to be cast into the lake of fire. Another difference is that of different types of punishment. A murderer and liar are equally guilty in God’s eyes therefore they earn the same punishment unlike Dante’s version of Hell.

Works Cited
Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy. 2nd Volume. The University of California, 2007. Print.