Mapping Dante’s Inferno, One Circle of Hell at a Time

“I found myself, in truth, on the brink of the valley of the sad abyss that gathers the thunder of an infinite howling. It was so dark, and deep, and clouded, that I could see nothing by staring into its depths.”

“This is the vision that greets the author and narrator upon entry the first circle of Hell—Limbo, home to honorable pagans—in Dante Alighieri’s Inferno, the first part of his 14th-century epic poem, Divine Comedy. Before Dante and his guide, the classical poet Virgil, encounter Purgatorio and Paradiso, they must first journey through a multilayered hellscape of sinners—from the lustful and gluttonous of the early circles to the heretics and traitors that dwell below. This first leg of their journey culminates, at Earth’s very core, with Satan, encased in ice up to his waist, eternally gnawing on Judas, Brutus, and Cassius (traitors to God) in his three mouths. In addition to being among the greatest Italian literary works, Divine Comedy also heralded a craze for “infernal cartography,” or mapping the Hell that Dante had created.

“This desire to chart the landscape of Hell began with Antonio Manetti, a 15th-century Florentine (like Dante himself) architect and mathematician. He diligently worked on the “site, form and measurements” of Hell, assessing, for example, the width of Limbo—87.5 miles across, he calculated. There are several theories for why it was so important then to delineate Dante’s Hell, including the general popularity of cartography at the time and the Renaissance obsession with proportions and measurements.” […]    –Anika Burgess, Atlas Obscura, July 13, 2017

Tenth Circle (2008), Lifetime movie based on Jodi Picoult’s novel

 

“Set in a small village in Maine, Circle features teen orgies, adultery, boy toys, date rape drugs, self-inflicted maiming and a suicide that might be murder.

“All this plays out against the unsubtle backdrop of high school teacher Laura Stone (Kelly Preston) teaching a course in Dante, whose Divine Comedy never foreshadows anything too pleasant.

“In fact, the title of the best-selling Jodi Picoult novel from which the film was adapted suggests Dante didn’t go far enough for the modern world – that where Dante created only nine circles of eternal purgatory, these days we need a 10th.

“Seems that since Dante outlined Hell in the early 14th century, we’ve somehow stepped up our game and developed another level of wickedness.” […]    –David Hinckley, NY Daily News, June 27, 2008

Jodi Picoult, Tenth Circle (2006), Dustin Weaver (Illustrator) Wildclaw (2006)

“The book was called The Tenth Circle.

“The main plot of the novel is a family drama focusing on a relationship between a father and daughter, but there is a secondary story in the form of the father’s comic book which we see pages of between each chapter. The father is a professional comic writer/artist, who in his super hero comic, “WildClaw”, is writing a story that parallels the drama in his life.

“The superhero, WildClaw, journeys into hell to rescue his daughter from the devil in a Dante’s Inferno inspired tale. Along the way he is forced to face the darkness within himself.

“I was very aware that this was not just a typical comic book, it was also an illustrated novel and I decided to take a more illustrative approach to the art.  Running with the Dante’s Inferno inspiration I tried for an art style reminiscent of the engraved art of Gustave Dore.

“I also chose a layout stile where one panel would serve as a kind of anchor illustration To me this style of layout creates a sense of each page being “a piece” onto itself. It’s a style that I think isn’t usually preferable in comics. In comics you mostly want to keep the reader moving through the story. In this I wanted to create illustrative pages that kept you looking at them.” […]    –Dustin Weaver dustinweaver.blogspot.com, September 3, 2014