Messiah IV: The Harrowing (2005)

“The 2005 4th season of the BBC drama series Messiah: The Harrowing focuses on a serial killer who takes inspiration from Inferno to punish his or her victims.”    —Wikipedia

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

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

“How the Idea of Hell Has Shaped the Way We Think”

“Our ancestors developed their ideas of Hell by drawing on the pains and the deprivations that they knew on earth. Those imaginings shaped our understanding of life before death, too. They still do.

[. . .]

“The great poetic example of the blurriness between the everyday and the ever after is Dante’s Inferno, which begins with the narrator ‘midway upon the journey of our life,’ having wandered away from the life of God and into a ‘forest dark.’ That wood, full of untamed animals and fears set loose, leads the unwitting pilgrim to Virgil, who acts as his guide through the ensuing ordeal, and whose Aeneid, itself a recapitulation of the Odyssey, acts as a pagan forerunner to the Inferno. This first canto of the poem, regrettably absent from the ‘Book of Hell,’ reads as a kind of psychological-metaphysical map, marking the strange route along which one person’s private trouble leads both outward and downward, toward the trouble of the rest of the world.

[. . .]

“Dante, writing in the early fourteenth century, drew on a bounty of hellish material, from Greek, Roman, and, of course, Christian literature, which is rife with horrible visions of Hell.”   –Vinson Cunningham, The New Yorker, 2019

Read the full article here.

“Newly Uncovered DNA Evidence Frees Thousands Of Damned Souls From Hell”

“Hear how justice was finally served for those wrongfully accused of greed, gluttony, and premarital sex.”   —The Onion, 2020

Listen to the full podcast here.

“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