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Journey Into Hell (Dante's Inferno)

"Inferno," is Dante Alighieri's 14th-century poem, The Divine Comedy. It's a elaborate journey of Dante's decent into Hell, guided by the roman poet, Virgil. In the poem, Hell is described as 9 circles located within the bowls of the Earth. As Virgil guides Dante through Hell they must must descend deeper into the Earth. Each circle represent an increase in evilness, culminating at the center, where Satan resides. All sinners are condemned for eternity and dropped into a Hellish circle that best fits their punishment.

First Circle - Limbo

In "Dante's Inferno," the first circle of Hell is limbo, It's a place reserved for the unbaptized, hopeless, and virtuous pagans. Although not sinful, they did not accept Christ as their savior. As a result, these guiltless soles are damned for eternity and denied into Heaven.

Despite being Hell, Limbo is not a bad place to live. It has rolling green fields and an awesome castle. Inside the walls resides eruditely men of antiquity, including Virgil himself, as well as Homer, Euclid, Hippocrates, Plato, Aristotle, and many other History figures. In the poem, Dante gets to meet (and perhaps even parties) with these men of high status.

Second Circle - Lust

The second circle of Hell is for individual consumed with lust. Dante condemns people who lack proper moral judgment and succumb to their carnal desires. He writes, "The lustful our truly the first ones to be punished in Hell."

In this Hellish circle these poor souls are blown back and forth by a strong wind without rest. In the poem the wind is a metaphor - the power of lust can blow a person about aimlessly. As Virgil guides him through the first circle he hooks-up with Cleopatra, Helen of Troy and many other who lived a lustful life on Earth.

Third Circle - Gluttony

A forbidding worm by the name of Cerberus guards the gluttons, who are forced to lie in a foul slush produced by frozen rain. Virgil obtains safe passage past "Cerberus" by feeding its multiple-mouths with mud. The Gluttons are truly damned, force to lie in stinky mud, sightless and heedless. The gluttons were guilty of overindulgence in food, drink and addiction; the mud symbolizes their cold, selfish, empty lives.

Fourth Circle - Greed

There are two types of people condemned in this Hellish realm, hoarders and wasters. They had lived a life of material goods, and punished by moving large bags of money up and down a hill for eternity.

Dante try's to strike up a conversation with some of the men on the hill, but Virgil tells him not to bother, indicating that they've lost their individuality and will not respond. He also mentions that many clergymen, popes and cardinal dwell in this horrific circle.

Fifth Circle - Anger

On the swampy surface waters of the river Styx, millions of infuriated souls engage in a never-ending battle amongst themselves. While immersed below in the cold murky water you'll find the damned of the damned, they find no joy in God, man or the universe and slowly descend into the black void of oblivion.

Six Circle - Heretics

The heretics occupy the sixth circle of Hell, all doomed and trapped inside hot flaming tombs for eternity. Most Epicureans find themselves in hell for their unconventional ideology and by saying, "Eat, drink and be merry, and oh yea, the soul dies with the body." I bet they regret saying that now. Virgil indicates that the last three circles of Hell is reserved for the most wicked. They pause a few seconds before making the steep decent into foul-smelling seventh circle.

Seventh Circle - Violence

The seventh circle houses the violent and is divided into three rings, entry is guarded by Minotaur.

Outer ring: This ring houses the violent against people and property. Sinners are forced to float in a river of boiling blood and fire, not too fun.

Middle ring: In this ring are suicides and profligates. Suicide is considered violence against self, therefor a sin. These forsaken souls are transformed into thorny bushes and trees. Dante breaks off a twig from a nearby tree, and it speaks... From the broken branch comes the story of Pietro Della Vigne, who committed suicide after losing favor with Emperor Frederick II.

Inner ring: Here are the violent against God (blasphemers) and nature. They must spend eternity walking on flaming dessert sand, with scorching fiery flakes falling from the sky. The last two circles of Hell can only be reached by descending a vast cliff. Dante and Virgil hitch a ride on a massive winged monster and descend into the most horrific and darkest part of Hell.

Eight Circle - Farad

In the eighth circle of Hell reside the fraudulent, prostitutes, pimps, flatters, corrupt politicians, thieves, and many more. They live in human excrement with heads turned backwards, stuffed into fowl smelling holes and boiled in hot tar. Not a nice place to live or even visit.

Ninth Circle - Treachery

In the last circle resides the sinners against family, traitors against country, betrayers against God. Instead of being condemned to a fiery pit, these sinners our encased in an icy tomb, frozen and dammed for all time.

Finally Virgil and Dante make their way to the center of Hell, and find the ultimate betrayer against God, Satan - He's a horrific beast with three faces. He stands weeping, waist deep in ice, beating his massive wings. Each face has a mouth that chews a prominent traitor:

Brutus and Cassius are feet-first in the left and right mouths. They are dammed to the ninth circle of Hell for their involvement in the assassination of Julius Caesar. In the center mouth is Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Jesus Christ. His back is being skinned by Stain's razor-sharp claw, while he is being chewed...


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