The Geological Features That Inspired Hell In Dante’s Divine Comedy

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“For a long time, the inner earth was a mysterious place – supposedly the reign of demons, home to ancient gods (like Pluto) and place of eternal damnation. Italian poet Dante Alighieri imagined an especially elaborate version of Hell in his Divine Comedy. He included in his description the nine circles of Hell, with Lucifer residing in the lowest, real landscapes and geological features. According to author Marco Romano, in the description of Dante’s Inferno we find earthquakes, rivers, mountains, landslides, a desert of scorching sand and even some types of rocks (like the famous marble of Carrara).

“Dante imagined Hell like an inverted cone, with its circles gradually becoming smaller nearer to Earth’s core. Each circle was dedicated to a sin and the sin’s related punishment. This image is based on calculations of Greek philosophers, like Eratosthenes of Cyrene or Claudius Ptolemy, who argued that Earth is a sphere. Hell, as part of earth, would have to be cone-shaped. Dante even gives an exact value of Earth’s radius of 3,250 miles (it’s actually 3,959 miles).” — David Bressan, Forbes, July 16, 2016

Read the full article here.

Nimrod in Portland, Maine

A bit of stretch, but seeing the name of the giant Nimrod rising up out of the snow might bring to mind Inf. 31.

The Circles of Hell on a Trip to Mount Bromo (Indonesia)

Mount-Bromo-Indonesia-Ninth-Circle-Dantes-Inferno“Mount Bromo is located at about 4 hours drive from Surabaya, the capital of East Java, in Indonesia and it is part of the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. It is considered one of the top bucket list destinations in Indonesia, one of the places to visit in Indonesia. I suppose it deserves to be one of them.

“You see, I am an atheist and hardly a believer that heaven and hell exist. Yet, if I have to describe my experience in Mount Bromo, the first thing that comes to my mind are the Nine Circles of Hell of Dante’s Inferno. Much like Dante’s journey through hell, accompanied by his guide Virgil, I felt that I was also going through the nine circles, although in my case there was no real guide in sight but just other members of the tour group.” — Claudia Tavani, “Ring of Fire or Circle of Hell? Crossing Dante’s Inferno on Mount Bromo,” My Adventures Across the World, November 10, 2015

Read more about Tavani’s adventure on Mount Bromo here.

Robot Dante’s Voyage

“Following in the fictional footsteps of the poet Dante, who descended into hell in his Divine Comedy, a robot also named Dante will later this month descend into the inferno of Mount Erebus, an active volcano in Antarctica. The eight-legged, spider-like robot, developed by two American universities and NASA, will gather data and samples from the hostile environment inside the volcano’s crater. At the same time, robotics researchers hope to gain valuable experience about how to build robots to explore the surfaces of other planets.” — Jonathan Beard, New Scientist, December 12, 1992

Read more of this article here.

Savannah Fire on the Serengeti

savannah-fire-serengeti-2017“Fire ecology is a fascinating subject. I always get a bit of a buzz when I find a fire image in Snapshot Serengeti. Fire is a major component of savannah ecosystems and the grasses and trees within them have evolved along with fire, some to such an extent that they cannot exist without the occasional burn…

“As the dry season progresses the deep verdant greens start to fade to yellow, the temperature mounts into the high 30’s and the strong Harmattan winds pick up. The landscape is a mosaic of tall savannah grasslands divided by fingers of thick lush riverine habitat. The climatic conditions bring violent lightning storms which, given the tinder dry grasses, can trigger natural bush fires. Of course this process is random, not every patch of grass will burn every year unlike the human induced fires that sweep this part of Central African Republic year after year.

[. . .]

“The day I have been dreading finally comes. Fire is spotted 5km from the camp and it is racing towards our fire break, a team rushes out to light a back burn to try and stop it in its tracks but the wind does us no favours and within hours we can see the flames as they burn behind the camp perimeter. I am feeling panicky but although it looks like Dante’s inferno the danger has passed as the fire makes its way along the north side of the airstrip. Then disaster strikes the wind, capricious as ever, changes direction just as the fire reaches the end of the airstrip and a great gust of hot ash and embers jumps the fire break and the fire starts racing up the south side of the airstrip. And all hell breaks loose; we never expected it to get into this block.” — Lucy Hughes, Snapshot Serengeti, March 1, 2017

Read more of the article here.

Fire in Guatemala at Children’s Shelter

guatemala-childrens-shelter-fire-2017“A fire that raged in a home for abused children in Guatemala killed at least 35 people, mostly girls, and doctors on Thursday described their shock at the severity of the burns suffered by two dozen more hospitalized victims.

“‘I’ve been doing this for 29 years. What I saw yesterday was a scene from Dante,’ said Juan Antonio Villeda, director of the San Juan de Dios hospital, where victims with extremely serious burns were being treated. Villeda was alluding to the 14th-century poem The Inferno by Italian author Dante Alighieri that depicts punishments suffered in Hell.

The fire broke out on Wednesday in a wing of the government-run Virgen de la Asuncion home near San Jose Pinula, 25 km (15 miles) southwest of Guatemala City, as some residents allegedly set mattresses ablaze after an escape attempt the night before.” — Sofia Menchu, Reuters, March 8, 2017

Read more about the fire here.

Camp Fire in Paradise, CA (2018)

california-2018-paradise-fire“The burned-out wrecks of abandoned cars lining the roads out of this once-picturesque mountain town bear silent witness to residents’ frantic efforts escape the hellish advance of the raging Camp Fire.

“Tires melted down to their steel belts. Windows blown out. Paint evaporated. Rims liquefied and then solidified after running down the pavement. Fire leaping across the road.

‘It just looked like Dante’s Inferno,’ said evacuee John Yates, 65. ‘Black and red was all you could see.'” — Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, November 10, 2018

Read more about the fire here.

Miracle Strip Amusement Park

Miracle Strip Amusement Park opened in 1963 with the Starliner Roller Coaster as it’s main attraction. Located across from the beach in Panama City, the park did not look like your average theme park and resembled the traditional seaside boardwalks of the past. The park featured many of the typical rides you would find at any carnival nowadays including scramblers, bumper cars, a carousel and a haunted house. Some of the rides, such as the Abominable Snowman and Dante’s Inferno, were enhanced by placing them in dome structures and adding lighting effects, temperature changes, smoke effects and music.

In 2003, it was announced that the park would close the following year due to lack of interest, loss of money and increased expenses to keep the rides maintained and running. Many of the rides were either sold off or disappeared, some being found and reopened under the same name. Any of the remaining structures or rides that weren’t sold were later demolished.”

Read more at AbandonedFL.com

Darvasa Gas Crater, the “Gate to Hell” (Turkmenistan)

Darvaza-Gas-Crater-Gate-of-Hell-Turkmenistan“There are places on Earth that are a little creepy, places that feel a little haunted and places that are downright hellish. The Darvaza gas crater, nicknamed by locals ‘The Door to Hell,’ or “The Gates of Hell,” definitely falls into the latter category—and its sinister burning flames are just the half of it. Located in the Karakum Desert of central Turkmenistan (a little over 150 miles from the country’s capital) the pit attracts hundreds of tourists each year. It also attracts nearby desert wildlife—reportedly, from time to time local spiders are seen plunging into the pit by the thousands, lured to their deaths by the glowing flames.” — Natasha Geiling, Smithsonian.com (May 20, 2014)

Annual Fires in Nairobi’s Gikomba Market

kenya-market-fire-2018“Kenyans have woken up yet to another fire in one of the country’s largest open-air markets claiming at least 15 lives and destroying property worth millions of shillings.

“The Gikomba fireballs have become an annual occurrence. Here, a look at them between 2012 and 2018.” — Fredrick Obura, Standard Digital, June 28, 2018