Guide to Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell

“Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy is considered an epic masterpiece and a foundational work of the Western canon. We offer this short guide to the nine circles of Hell, as described in Dante’s Inferno.

“First Circle: Limbo
The first circle is home to the unbaptized and virtuous pagans. It’s not Heaven, but as far as Hell goes, it isn’t too bad: It’s the retirement community of the afterlife. Hippocrates and Aristotle will be your neighbors, so any attempt at small talk will probably turn into Big Talk in a hurry. You’ll have television, but all of the channels will be set to CSPAN.” [. . .]    –Matt Staggs, Penguin Random House

Trump and his Enablers belong in Dante’s 9th Circle of Hell

each-betrayal-begins-with-trust-martin-luther“If Dante’s deepest circle of Hell did exist, it would be reserved for Trump and his enablers. It would be reserved for those who betrayed our country and this beautiful blue world for profit. It would be reserved for those who allowed a pandemic to take tens of thousands of lives and affect millions. It would be reserved for those who are silent about the bounties placed on our active duty troops’ heads, who disparage our military, intelligence agencies, our scientists, and health care professionals. It would be reserved for those who place all that we love in danger.

“It would be reserved for those who supposedly care for us, but expect silence about their support of Trump or of those who support him.

“The list of betrayals in my life is long and old.” []    –Onomastic, Daily Kos, September 15, 2020

William Barr’s Circle of Hell

bill-barr

[. . .] “There are circles of hell for men such as Trump, and also for their enablers. For people who ought to know better but who go along with the inane, violent, crooked impulses of The Boss for reasons of political expediency. Barr is one such man.

“Dante reserved an entire section of hell for opportunists. Such people would, he wrote, be condemned to chase banners, and in turn to be chased by hornets and wasps, for all eternity.

“And this blind life of theirs is so debased,
They envious are of every other fate.
No fame of them the world permits to be;
Misericord and Justice both disdain them.”    –Sasha Abramsky, The Abramsky Report, April 27, 2019

The 10th Circle of Hell is Southwest Airlines

 

airplane

In her blog, Geraldine DeRuiter takes issue with her experience with Southwest Airlines’ seating policy, writing, “THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DO NOT HAVE ASSIGNED SEATING. Everyone has an “it’s me or them” mentality that extends to the entire flight.  I want to sit here. . .”

“There is a special circle of hell for all of these people” [. . .]    –Geraldine DeRuiter, The Everywhereist, March 8, 2017.

COVID-19: Indians Going Through Nine Circles of Hell

“Akin to how characters in Dante’s poem paid for their sins in hell, Indians are paying with their lives during a pandemic for electing a government that is utterly incompetent and bigoted. [. . .]

“Dante and his imaginary guide Virgil were travelling through nine circles of hell on their way to heaven. Hell was used as a metaphor for human suffering for sins committed on earth. Although the punishment was severe, Dante’s poem portrayed them as fair and proportionate to the sins committed. The sufferings in India are not imaginary, but real, taking place while people are still alive, and most importantly, whatever their sins are, the fairness and proportionately of the punishments are definitely questionable. Yet the reference is fair and this column is designed to explain why.

“India is now in the proverbial ‘Ante-Inferno’ with a clear inscription written all over her, ‘Abandon all hope, you who enter here.’ India is now the case study of ‘what not to do’ in a pandemic, thanks to the conceit, egotism, and self-approbation of the Modi government.” [. . .]    –Debasish Chakraborty, The Wire, May 20, 2021

“Why Dante, 700 years later, is still a hell of a journey,” Hindustani Times

A brief overview of Dante’s influence and impact on the arts and on people all over the world, and notes our own Dante Today:

[…] “The poem’s influences are so wide and far-ranging that three American universities have collaborated on a website to keep track of them all. Since 2006, Dante Today has been archiving every present-day reference to the poem, through “sightings” and “citings”. They’re pretty thorough, even adding a hot-sauce brand called 10th Circle to their archive last month.” […]    –Rachel Lopez, Hindustani Times, February 20, 2021

Dinty W. Moore, To Hell With It: Of Sin and Sex, Chicken Wings, and Dante’s Entirely Ridiculous, Needlessly Guilt-Inducing Inferno (2021)

“Dante published his ambitious and unusual poem, Divine Comedy, more than seven hundred years ago. In the ensuing centuries countless retellings, innumerable adaptations, tens of thousands of fiery sermons from Catholic bishops and Baptist preachers, all those New Yorker cartoons, and masterpieces of European art have afforded Dante’s fictional apparition of hell unending attention and credibility. Dinty W. Moore did not buy in.

“Moore started questioning religion at a young age, quizzing the nuns in his Catholic school, and has been questioning it ever since. Yet after years of Catholic school, religious guilt, and persistent cultural conditioning, Moore still can’t shake the feelings of inadequacy, and asks: What would the world be like if eternal damnation was not hanging constantly over our sheepish heads? Why do we persist in believing a myth that merely makes us miserable? In To Hell with It, Moore reflects on and pokes fun at the over-seriousness of religion in various texts, combining narratives of his everyday life, reflections on his childhood, and religion’s influence on contemporary culture and society.”   —University of Nebraska Press

9 di Dante’s Inferno Vermouth

“Inspired by Dante’s La Divina Comedia and his journey through Hell, this Vermouth di Torino Superiore defies the traditional boundaries of Italian Rosso Vermouths. Blended from equal parts Dolcetto Red and Cortese White Piedmont wines, we have developed this orginial recipe to deliver a modern an intriguing taste. You will be seduced by its intense ruby red colour and its fruity nose with hints of red berries, cherry and orange. Its bold personality will provide a rich and full bodied experience with well balanced herbal and citrus notes and a fresh and mildly bitter finish.”   –Description from the 9 di Dante website

See also Suzanne Branciforte’s blogpost “Dante’s March” (March 30, 2021).

“Dante is remembered most for his depiction of hell. This sculptor wants us to remember heaven, too.”

“VATICAN CITY (RNS) — In preparation for the 700 anniversary of the death of medieval poet Dante Alighieri, a Canadian artist is creating a sculptural tribute to his ‘Divine Comedy’ that would be the first sculptural rendition of the entire poem.

“‘In our culture Dante is becoming lost,’ said sculptor Timothy Schmalz in an interview with Religion News Service on Monday (July 20).

“Not only is Dante less and less required reading, Schmalz said, but his ‘Divine Comedy’ is often misrepresented by putting the focus only on the first part — the descriptions of hell and its fiery punishments.

“The Italian poet captivated generations by telling his imaginary journey through hell, purgatory and heaven. His use of popular Italian dialect in his writing, instead of the more high-brow Latin, earned him a title as the ‘Father of the Italian Language.’

“’Because I am a Christian sculptor I will right this wrong,’ Schmalz said. ‘I will do what has never been done before in the history of sculpture, which is to create a sculpture for each canto of the ”Divine Comedy.””  –Claire Giangravé, America, 2020

Read the full article here.

“The Ninth Circle of Hell – Dante and the DMV”

“Dante once wrote that Hell had nine circles within its depths. Dante’s Inferno is an amazing literary work that describes in great detail the horror of a place where no person wishes to go. Dante must have been inspired by a trip to the local DMV.

“You see, I recently journeyed into an inferno of abandoned hope, discomfort, and pain when I was forced to visit the Queens DMV. Like Dante, I encountered the nine circles of Hell, though not necessarily in the same order. But first, some backstory . . .”   –Jason Greene, The Good Men Project, 2012

Read the full article here.