“Sending Trump to Hell,” by Ariel Dorfman

“My name, sir, is Dante Alighieri. Among the innumerable dead that inhabit these shores, I have been chosen to speak to you because an expert on the afterlife was needed to describe what awaits your soul when it passes, as all souls must, into this land of shadows. I was chosen, whether as an honor or not, to imagine your fate once you wind your way toward us.

“Having accepted this task, I was tempted, sir, as I watched your every act in that life before death, to make this easier for myself and simply conjure up the circles of Hell I had already described in my terza rima. I would then have guided you down my cascade of verses, step by step, into the depths of darkness I had designed for others.

“Were you not the selfish embodiment of so many sins I dealt with in my Commedia? Lust and adultery, yes! Gluttony, yes; greed and avarice, oh yes; wrath and fury, certainly; violence, fraud, and usury, yes again! Divisiveness and treachery, even heresy — you who did not believe in God and yet used the Bible as a prop — yes, one more time!”   –Ariel Dorfman, “Sending Trump to Hell,” Nation of Change (October 22, 2020)

Contributed by Justin Meckes

Ron Herzman and Bill Stephany on Inf. 27 for “Canto per Canto”

Bill-Stephany-Ron-Herzman-Inferno-27-Canto-per-Canto

“‘What do you need to be a member of Dante’s afterlife?’, Ron Herzman asks in conversation with Bill Stephany. To receive the privilege of being immortalized in the pages of the Inferno, one has to be, of course, dead by 1300 and an unrepentant sinner. The ‘mechanics of repentance’ in Hell is based on a subtle rhetoric of self-justification and reciprocal accusation hidden behind a submissive, noble or miserable attitude. Distinguishing between false and true repentance, as well as between false and true conversion, is as complicated as it was essential for Dante. The ‘exercise in reading’ required to orient us in this mechanics is complicated by the empathy for sinners and by the particular ‘foxiness’ of some of them. A prime example is that of Guido da Montefeltro in Inferno 27. The lacrimetta that redeems a life of sins is the same impalpable difference that separates falsehood from truth, Hell from Purgatory and Paradise. Because what can be feigned will never be in God’s eyes, and with him in Dante’s: Francesca, Paolo, Brunetto and, here, Guido are all, after all, in Hell.” –Maria Zilla

Watch or listen to the video “Inferno 27: An Offer He Couldn’t Refuse” here.

Canto per Canto: Conversations with Dante in Our Time is a collaborative initiative between New York University’s Department of Italian Studies and Casa Italiana Zerilli-Marimò, and the Dante Society of America. The aim is to produce podcast conversations about all 100 cantos of the Divine Comedy, to be completed within the seventh centenary of Dante’s death in 2021.

Real Places on Earth That Lead to the Gates of Hell

“Hell on Earth: A concept that has fascinated many for millennia, an attempt to place divine punishment on the same plane of existence humans live in. [. . .] Religions across the world speak of portals that connect the living with the dead and the terrible creatures that guard this fiery pit. Where are these gates to Hell?

[. . .]

“Along the road of Lake Averno in Italy, we find one of the oldest roads that lead to the underworld. Over two thousand years ago, Grotto della Sibilla was once a Roman military tunnel connecting Lake Averno to Lake Lucrino. Here, Aeneas with Sibyl at his side embarked on a journey into Hades.    —Eduardo Limón, Cultura Colectiva, August 2, 2016

The Social Media of Hell

“People, especially people’s troubles, are not fit entertainment, but can be entertaining. That’s not good. We need justice, but doing justice is not so we can make a Netflix series and gaze slack jawed at the bad guys and marvel at their talk.

“A Christian is called to love his enemies and that’s hard to do if they are providing your amusement for the evening. Social media can send a swarm of us after the latest example of someone breaking down or being taken down on Twitter.

“When I participate, I am going down to Hell and listening to the endless natter, the continuous stream of accusations, justifications, and whines that mark the damned or so Dante’s Inferno would suggest. There Dante gets stuck in a dangerous place, because he wishes to hear the social media stream of damnation.” […]    –John Mark N. Reynolds, Patheos, April 2, 2019

‘Dante’s Inferno isn’t hot enough for you,’ says judge

“STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Earlier this month, Anthony Morales admitted to slaying a neighbor and her son on a Mariners Harbor street two years ago.

“But the stocky 51-year-old defendant didn’t apologize for their deaths at his sentencing on Wednesday. Instead, Morales presented himself as the victim, claiming the decedents had harassed and tormented ceaselessly over the years, had followed him to a home he owned in Pennsylvania and had ‘come looking for’ him on the day they died.

“State Supreme Court Justice Mario F. Mattei listened patiently to Morales’ rambling seven-minute monologue in his St. George courtroom packed with the victims’ distraught relatives. And when Morales finally sat down, the judge didn’t mince words or hide his disdain.” […]    –Frank Donnelly, SiLive, May 30, 2018

Getting Fired because of Dante’s Inferno

“Recently, there have been a number of Employment Tribunal cases focusing on employees’ Facebook posts. In Weeks v Everything Everywhere Limited, the claimant was dismissed after making posts that compared his employer to Dante’s Inferno.

“Everything Everywhere Limited (EEL) employed Mr Weeks as a customer service adviser. Its social media policy warned employees to avoid making posts that could damage EEL’s reputation or be viewed as bullying and harassment.

“Mr Weeks frequently made Facebook posts that likened EEL to Dante’s classical portrayal of Hell, such as “Dante’s awaits me – what a downer 12 hours of love and mirth“. Ms Lynn, one of his colleagues, reported these comments to Mr Groom, his line manager. Mr Groom formally warned Mr Weeks to stop posting in this manner.” […]    –Julie Keir, Brodies, March 29, 2013

“The 9 Circles of Hell… I Mean, Bedtime”

Circles-of-hell-bedtime“I’ve tried everything I can think of to make bedtime a less painful time of day for us, but I’ve run the gamut between rewards and punishments and all I get is this same sequence of events, night after night.

“Bedtime is a monotonous, hellish time for me, as I am sure it is for a lot of parents. [. . .]” — Cheney Meaghan, Pickle Fork, January 4, 2019

Ty Owens, “The 9 Circles of Modern Hell”

“In the story Inferno from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy, there were nine circles of Hell – nine phases of Hell that Dante must pass through, each worse than the last. In the modern day, most people are not as afraid of ‘sinning’ as people were back in the day of Dante. This world has a great mix of faiths and degrees of lacking one. So, ‘sinning’ in the old way of describing actions isn’t really as relevant anymore. Therefore, I believe a renaming of the Nine Rings of Hell is in order so that people of the modern day can get more of a grasp on the terror that Dante was trying to get across with Inferno.

[. . .]

“3. Too Many Stops in Your MusicTy-Owens-Spinning-Wheel-of-Death-Buffering

Whether it be those few minutes where every radio station is on commercial or where the data is too slow to stream music, there are times when the music just isn’t playing. This is justifiably maddening because the only real reason this should happen is that ‘American Pie’ by Don McLean just came true and the music died. This circle of Hell is populated by radios that play only one line of a random song for every 24 hours of commercials or speakers that only play stints of skipping music between days of watching the ‘Loading’ or ‘Buffering’ icons pin.” — Ty Owens, “The 9 Circles of Modern Hell,” The Odyssey Online (July 18, 2016)

Contributed by Jessica Brewer (University of Kansas, 2019)

Homer Simpson’s Donut Hell

Hell-Ironic-Punishments-Division-Door-SimpsonsThe Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror IV” (S05E05): after losing his soul to the devil in a bargain over a donut, Homer is subjected to punishments in Hell’s “Ironic Punishments Division,” where the demon in charge of force-feeding him donuts is astonished at his capacity.

See a clip from the episode on YouTube.

See also the action figure released by MacFarlane Toys (pictured below).

Donut-Hell-Ironic-Punishment-Simpsons

Go To Hells: An Updated Guide to Dante’s Underworld by Kali V. Roy (2015)

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“In the 1300s, Dante described only nine circles of hell in the underworld. Since then? No new updates. Thankfully, Go to Hells picks up where Dante left off, providing readers with a much-needed expanded edition of the Inferno. Included in this volume-in-verse are helpful descriptions and illustrations of the contemporary hell circles that have cropped up since Dante’s times. The guiding maxim of Go to Hells? We all know that the devil is in the details. So when you tell someone to go to hell, you should be as specific as possible. Covering everything from Movie Talkers and Loud Typers to Reply All-ers and those guilty of chronic PDA, Go to Hells provides all the details the savvy crank needs to keep pace with the new and ever-more-irksome irritations of the modern world.” — Amazon.com

See Parker Molloy’s review of the book on upworthy.com.

And check out the video trailer for the book on YouTube.