Divine Comedy Characters
The ‘Inferno’ is the first part of the work ‘The Divine Comedy’ by Dante. The work is an allegory which deals with the journey of Dante through hell accompanied by Virgil, the Roman poet. In addition, the work ‘Divine comedy’ symbolizes the journey of the soul. Within this, ‘Inferno’ deals with the sin of human beings. In the introduction part of the work, one can see that: “Dante the man remains inextricably tied to the content and action of The Divine Comedy both as to its narrator and as its central protagonist.” (Alighieri, Bondanella and Longfellow xxi) Dante is deeply involved in the work ‘The Divine Comedy’, especially ‘Inferno’ as the narrator and its central character. This helps the readers to have a deeper understanding of the historical, religious and literary significance of the characters and eventually, the work as a whole. Here, the attempt is to choose 30 characters from ‘Inferno’ and to describe each person on their historical/religious/literary significance.
- Muse (Canto II, P.8): Muse is an ancient goddess of art and poetry in Greek mythology and she explains her eternal experience to Dante on his request. Literary significance: Spirit who inspires literary and Artistic creativity and well known as the source of knowledge.
- Apostle Paul (Canto II, P.9): Apostle Paul visited the hell and returned back with life. He traveled across heaven and he carried the Bible to the third circle of heaven. Religious significance: Apostle Paul is known as one of the early Christian missionaries who preached Christianity in faraway lands and he is also a Christian thinker.
- Beatrice (Canto II, P.10): Beatrice is a historical grandee and lover of Dante. She assists Dante to find out Virgil and proposes him as a guide in his spiritual journey. Historical significance: Historically, Beatrice is the lover of Dante.
- Charon (Canto III, P.17): Charon is an aged ferryman who transports spirits to the opposite shore. Religious significance: In Greek mythology and religious belief, Charon is the ferryman of Hades, the division between the living world and the world of the dead.
- Hector (Canto IV, P.22): Hector was the legendary hero who participated in the Trojan War. At the war front, he was killed by Achilles, another legendary hero of the Trojan War. Literary significance: Hector was the Trojan prince, a hero of the work- Iliad by Homer.
- Lavinia (Canto IV, P.22): Lavinia is the daughter of emperor Latinus. She married Aeneas, the real hero of the Trojan War who conquered the army of Turnus. Literary significance: Lavinia is a character in Aeneid by Virgil.
- Minos (Canto V, P.25): Minos is the king of Greek island called Crete described in Greek Mythology. Minos looks very ugly as a monster. He used to keep position on the door of 2nd circle of hell. His duty is to decide the destination of sinners. Literary significance: Minos was the mythical king of Crete and an important character in Greek literary tradition.
- Socrates (Canto V, P.23): Socrates was the world-renowned philosopher of Dante’s period. This character is with historical significance in philosophical thought. Historical significance: Historically, Socrates was a Greek philosopher.
- Plato (Canto V, P.23): Plato was another philosopher, famous for his theories. Besides, he lived in Dante’s period and with historical significance in philosophical thought. Historical significance: Historically, Plato was the student of Socrates and the author of the work- Dialogues.
- Orpheus (Canto V, P.23): Orpheus was a great poet and musician in Greek mythology. He moved down to the hell in search of his wife, Eurydice, brings her back but was unsuccessful in his attempt. Literary significance: In ancient Greece and Rome, Orpheus was a legendary character, who used to inspire literature.
- Virgil: Virgil was a great roman poet and the author of Aeneid. Dante met Virgil in the forest when he lost his way. Virgil guided him throughout his spiritual journey of hell and assured him to show the place of eternal punishment and purgatory.
- Dis: Dis is the king of hell. He had three months and was also known as Lucifer in this work.
- Pope Boniface VIII: Pope Boniface VIII was a corrupted pope and political rival of Dante.
- Farinata: Farinata was a political leader of Dante’s epoch and he lives in the 6th circle of hell with Heretics.
- Phlegyas: Phlegyas is a ferryman who transports Virgil and Dante to River Styx. Besides, he is an important character in the work with religious significance.
- Filippo Argenti: he is a medieval supporter of the pope and keeps political rivalry against the writer.
- Nessus: The shape of Nessus is half man and a half horse who take the Dante till the 7th ring of hell.
- Pier Della Vigna: he was a mentor of monarch Frederick II.
- Turnes: Turnes was a great warrior of the Italian army but was killed on the battlefield by the Trojan Army.
- Nisus: Nisus was a young warrior who served in the Trojan Army. But he was killed in the assault of Italian soldiers.
- Turnus: Turnus was a young warrior who served in the Trojan Army. But he was killed in the assault of Italian soldiers.
- Camilla: Camilla is a pretty and brave young girl. She is the daughter of emperor Megabus, who was assassinated in the Trojan War.
- Lucia: The meaning of Lucia is ‘light’. She was a Christian martyr and recognized as a patron of eye ailment. Lucia returns to paradise from the eternal punishment place called Purgatory.
- Rachel: she is the spouse of Jacob and the sibling of Leah. As far as Christianity concerned, Leah is the representation of vigorous life and Rachel is the representation of meditative life.
- Ibn Rushd: Ibn Rushd was an Arab scholar who lived in the 12th century in Moorish Spain. He annotated the great philosophical thoughts of Aristotle and it is recognized as the prime text of medieval Christianity.
- Discordies: Discordies was a great scientist who lived in the first century B.C. In addition, he was in search of herbs and plants. He was the author of the famous work- ‘De materia medica’
- Saladin: Saladin was totally against the system of church and considered himself as the antagonist of Christian theology. Saladin’s greatest rival was the king of England, namely Richard.
- Pentbesilea: she is a young unmarried woman and queen of the Amazons. She participated in the Trojan War and tried to rescue the city of Troy. Finally, she was slain by Achilles.
- Julia: Julia was one of the four mature women who committed suicide after the loss of their tribute. She was the daughter of the great Roman emperor Julius Caesar and was wed locked with Pompey, due to the political desire of Julius Caesar.
- Electra: Electra is a mythical character, who created the city of Troy. Besides, she was the mother of Dardanus, an important character in Greek mythology with historical and religious significance.
Alighieri, Dante, Peter Bondanella, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. The Inferno. New York: Spark Educational Publishing, 2003.