Ryan Joe Essay

Submitted By rb94nd
Words: 1683
Pages: 7

Dante Alighieri was exiled from Florence, Italy during the

middle of his life. He was nearly 35 years young when he took a journey

deep into a world never visited by man before. He had entered hell

under strange circumstances. He recognized a famous poet named Virgil

whom he greatly admired and because Dante was a poet himself it was

no coincidence Virgil was to be his guide through the unknown stages

of hell. Dante would soon see unforgettable and gruesome images which

would eventually help him come to a better understanding of his

life’s meaning. Dante would have to feel sympathy for the sinners he

would soon meet in hell, because if he didn’t then his journey would

be pointless. Before he could understand life on earth, he needed to

experience hell in the inferno.

Dante’s depiction of the inferno would imply that we have a

cruel and unjust God but personally he is anything but cruel. He

creates a place of divine justice for the sinners in the deeper parts

of hell, however, the only unfair punishment is that of the

unbaptized and the pagans. There’s no reason why Moses and Noah

should be anywhere near the inferno even if their punishment is not

being able to be in heaven with God. All they had done during their

lifetime was obey God’s commands which made them appear as a fool to

everyone who knew them, and in return they’re sent to spend eternity

in hell. Now tell me, where’s the justice in that? You simply cannot

fault someone for not being Christian in a time period where there

was no such thing as Christianity because Christ had not yet been

born. Dante certainly doesn’t create the image of a God who

encourages torture as a punishment nor does he make him out to be

“conveying perfect justice.” In a way Dante is viewing the inferno

similar to the motto “don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time”,

except your locked up for life. However, you can’t argue with the

torture of the sinners because of the seriousness of their sins and

the irony of their punishments. For example, the traitors that

abandoned their family who reside in Caina (named after Cain) ran out

on and betrayed their families. ”Each kept his face bent downward

steadily; their mouths bore witness to the cold they felt, just as

their eyes proclaimed their sorry hearts.”(Mandelbaum, pg. 295) Now

they’re unable to move as they’re being submerged in ice with their

heads being pushed down. These people went from running away from

their families, to not being able to move. Murder, lustfulness,

sodomy, and violence against God, self, and others is by all means

understood to be inhumane but simultaneously are not the worst of the

sins committed by those in hell. Quite frankly Dante believes being a

fraud and betraying those of your own “kin” tops the list of most

serious sins. No reader can disagree with the placement of these

cold-hearted sinners.

In the first few circles of the inferno Dante encounters the

indecisive and self-servers, pagans and unbaptized, lustful,

gluttons, and the hoarders and wasters. Besides the unbaptized, all

of these types of sinners belong precisely where they are in upper

hell because of the lack of seriousness of their sins and how common

the sins are. Not to be pitiful by any means, but some of these sins

seem like they were committed unintentionally and simply by human

nature. The first six cantos are basically natural human weaknesses

and they cause the sinners souls to lose all hope, which is exactly

what the sign in the vestibule tells them to do. To no surprise, the

further you travel into hell the more unbearable the punishments

become for the souls to endure. The punishments go from chasing a

banner, to pushing a heavy weight, to having birds peck at your soul,

to being stuck in a burning tomb, to being completely…