Dante, the poet, and author of the Inferno, was a Renaissance-era artist who was interested in the historical time between 1300 and 1600. He was fascinated and dedicated to the church, which is why he conducts the Inferno, a description of hell and its sufferings. Dante is trapped in a desolate dark forest in early 1300, where he is surrounded by beasts. Dante was unable to leave and instead had to undergo the ordeal; he encountered the three worlds of life after death, beginning with hell. He depicted hell in nine rings, each representing an evil that may lead to an everlasting fire (Alcorn 78). The Inferno, which is the first part of Dante’s comedy, describes his vision of the hell. However, Virgil comes to his salvation after he is sent by Beatrice and once they meet, they initiate what is perceived as the “journey into the nine circles of Hell” (Alcorn 79). The paper will use Dante’s characters, Francesca, Ciacco the Hog, Farinata, Brunetto Latini, Ulysses, and Ugolino to describe his depiction of the Renaissance painting.
The second circle represents lust. Francesca, the woman who begs Virgil to help and guide Dante, is a representation of passion. Dante and his companion in their visit find people who were defeated by lust. The second circle was made to punish the lustful; people blew back and forth by strong winds thus preventing them from having rest and peace (Mason 2). The high winds in Dante’s comedy symbolized the restlessness of an individual who is led by strong desires for bodily pleasures. Also, Dante was able to see notable and adulterous people in history such as Cleopatra and Helen of Troy in the circle. Francesca, the character in this circle represents people who are lustful, always guided by the pleasures of the flesh thus ending up lacking peace and being restless (Alcorn 80). Francesca as a character helps Dante explain the issue of relationships and helps differentiate between lust and love. He warns the readers against the power of attraction towards the beauty of a person and having possessive sexual desires.
The third circle is for the gluttonous. Ciacco the hog represents the circle. He was a notorious glutton. The souls in this part of the hell were looked after by a monster called Cerberus. Those who sin in this category were put into torture by forcing them to sleep on a vile slush made by everlasting icy rain. It is thus perceived that the despicable slush was an indication of the individual dilapidation of a person who overindulges in drinks food and many other material elements. The lack of aptitude to see other people lying nearby characterizes the gluttonous self-centeredness and emotionlessness (Mason 5). Ciacco tells Dante that a fraction of people who supports the Pope will defeat and overthrow the part that supported the Emperor. Even in hell, Ciacco is still selfish and obsessed with the pleasures of the world such as war (Alcorn 82). Ciacco enables Dante to explain the magnitude of the sin by not considering the strong desire for food and drinks.
The sixth circle is heresy. The character in this Hell’s division is Farinata. Farinata is a supporter of the Emperor politics. Despite being a leader in Dante’s era, he lives in the sixth circle of the hell. Despite being helpless to render his contributions to politics, his intense obsession with the Florentine politics persists. Farinata and other heretics are condemned into eternal flaming tombs (Mason 12). Dante engages in a conversation with Farinata and other historical figures such as Pope Anastasius II (Alcorn 83). Farinata helps Dante explain the relationship between politics and family and how the obsession with politics can lead one to sin by engaging in wars.
Moreover, the seventh circle of the Hell represented violence. Brunetto Latini, a respected scholar, a friend, and an advisor to Dante represents the circle. It is classed into three rings. The outside band is where the killers are housed. Those who were vehement to others, as well as property, were found in this outer ring. Dante saw great historical personalities such as Centaurus and Alexander the Great though disputed sink into a body of boiling fire and blood. The central band consisted of people who killed themselves, and they had been become bushes and trees that were fed upon by harpies. The extravagant and people who did not spend well could be seen chased and torn to pieces by dogs (Mason 17). Lastly, the inner ring housed the blasphemers and sodomites. This part was characterized by desert of burning rain and sand falling from the sky. Brunetto Latini features among the sodomites and thus is a representation of the educated fellows who have different sexual orientations and attractions.
Furthermore, the eight circle of fraud is represented by the character of Ulysses. He was a bold and cunning man, and thus he was seen imprisoned in the eighth circle of Hell together with other individuals who were guilty of spiritual theft. The fraudulent resided in this circle. There is a flying monster called Geryon with different natures just as dishonest. The place is divided into ten stony ditches with bridges between them. The adulterous groups who consisted both seducered and flatterers, and false prophets became submissive. It is worth noting that the corrupt politicians, divisive people, and counterfeiters were the occupants of the ten Bolgias in the order given (Alcorn 84). Ulysses represents a hero who exceeds set limits and exploits other grounds.
Lastly, the nine circle of the Hell called the character of Ugolino represents the treachery. He was imprisoned for eating the corpse of his starved sons after being denied food by Archbishop Ruggieri. The circle is divided into four rounds as per the severity of the sins. The individuals in this part are frozen in an icy lake with the most sinful found deep within the ice. The rounds are named according to person who personifies the sin. For instance, round one is named Cain; the second is Antenora, the third Ptolomaea, and the fourth Judecca after Judas Iscariot (Alcorn 85). Ugolin is a symbol of betrayers of family, kin, and country. Ugolino betrayed his sons to avoid starving to death.
Dante’s Inferno is a representation of the sins that are in the world today. The author gives an explicit elaboration of the nature of the crime and the reserved place in Hell. He uses characters explain the effect of the sin and show the sufferings they experience after death. The comedy was done during the medieval Christian era, and thus the close linkage of the Inferno with the Bible is a clear warning to other Christians and the world on the afterlife. Dante warns people against committing sins that may land them to Hell.
Alcorn, John. “Suffering in Hell: The Psychology of Emotions in Dante’s Inferno.” Pedagogy 13.1 (2013): 77-85.
Mason, H. A. “A Journey through Hell Dante’s Inferno Re-visited: The magnificent contrapasso- Canto XIX.” The Cambridge Quarterly 17.1 (1991): 1-24.