Dante's Inferno: A Short Story

Words: 934
Pages: 4

Fresh out of Hell, Dante was, one might feel compelled to say, a changed man. That statement in itself was debatable, but the sights of Hell had, indeed, traumatized him. Lucifer’s three faces were still etched in the back of his brain, and he was certain that he would never forget the contrapasso of Bertrand de Born, the way he had held his severed head.
Needless to say, Dante had more than enough incentive to expel sin from his lifestyle entirely, to follow God’s path, and to avoid the Inferno at all costs. Alas, whether or not he had internalized the lessons of his experience was yet to be seen.
For now, Hell was behind him, and he was in dire need of a drink.
The Pilgrim wandered into the town pub and received raised eyebrows and looks
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And, despite Dante’s obvious discomfort, Homer carried on, and he boasted, boasted, boasted about his newly finished epic about a hero named Odysseus. Eventually, Homer offered to read aloud “the impressive bits,” and Dante nodded. So, the man began to read.
Not much time passed before Dante had his first objection. “Why must Odysseus succumb to lust so readily?”
Taken aback by not only the interruption, but the question, Homer furrowed his brow. “Well, you see, he has tamed the witch Circe and so he deserves a reward. Understand?”
“But Odysseus has a wife. His trysts with Circe deem him unfaithful.” With the empty gazes of Helen and Paris on his mind, Dante pressed on. No one, he believed, should encourage such behavior, which warranted such punishment, in any word, written or otherwise.
“Penelope, yes…” Homer faltered. “Odysseus is a brave warrior, who deserves the simple pleasures of life, within reason. And, I suppose you’re missing—I imagine this is what’s bothering you, this should put it to rest—he seldom gives his heart to another.”
Though he was wholly unsatisfied with Homer’s answer, Dante motioned for him to continue. Once more, Homer turned few pages before Dante
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His concern with rescuing Homer’s soul outweighed his care for the other man’s turbulent emotions, ten times over. “Is the Underworld a fictional Hell? Because, I have to tell you, that’s nothing like Hell. And this Tiresias fellow…Why do you have Odysseus listen to a soothsayer? A blind one, at that. They’re all frauds, you know. It wouldn’t surprise me if he led poor Odysseus—well, not poor Odysseus—to his death!”
Homer sighed in exasperation. “Tiresias is the greatest Seer—.”
“He’s in Hell,” Dante countered, bluntly. “Tiresias is in Hell.”
“Do you want to hear the story or not?”
“By all means, please continue.”
The Pilgrim contained his commentary a minute or so longer than usual, until: “If this Poseidon really was a god, he’d be the first god in Hell, I’ll tell you that much.”
Homer slammed down the parchment, uprooting his glass of ale from the bar and inadvertently smudging a tiny section of ink. However, he could not be bothered with that at the moment, for the rage in his heart, in his eyes, willed him to confront the pest called Dante.
“What is the matter with you? This is a remarkable story, an exceptional story!”
The Pilgrim steeled his features and stared, warningly, at the other man.
“Please,” he whispered, “for the love of God and yourself, burn this epic. You need not expose the sinful lessons of Odysseus to the