“The Most Harrowing Paintings of Hell Inspired by Dante’s Inferno

“Dante Alighieri’s depiction of the afterlife has inspired generations of readers since the Divine Comedy was first published in 1472. In the 14,233 verses of this poem, Dante envisions a trip to the afterlife, guided first by the Roman poet Virgil, who leads him through Hell and Purgatory, and then by his beloved Beatrice, who leads him through Paradise. His detail-rich descriptions of Hell, envisioned as nine concentric circles containing souls of those “who have rejected spiritual values by yielding to bestial appetites or violence, or by perverting their human intellect to fraud or malice against their fellowmen,” have inspired artists for the last five centuries. Here are some of the most poignant visualizations of Dante’s Inferno.

[. . .]

Stradanus, Canto VIII (1587-1588)

Flemish painter Jan van der Straet, known by his Italian name ‘Stradanus,’ completed a series of illustrations of the Divine Comedy between 1587 and 1588, currently preserved at the Laurentian Library in Florence. This illustration refers to Canto VIII, where the wrathful and slothful are punished. Stradanus combines elements of Italian Mannerism, such as painstaking attention to detail, with distinctive Flemish traits like the physiognomy of the demonic figure steering Dante’s boat, who shows a deeply harrowing expression.”    –V. M. Traverso, Aleteia, July 17, 2020

“The Divine Comedy of The House That Jack Built

“After being banned from the Cannes Film Festival and finishing his Depression Trilogy, Lars von Trier returned from a five-year hiatus with The House That Jack Built. The film follows a sadistic, failed architect named Jack (Matt Dillon) who recalls his murders to the ancient Roman poet Virgil (Bruno Ganz), as the pair make their way through Hell. To Virgil’s disgust, Jack sees these incidents as misunderstood works of art.

When the film premiered at Cannes, it prompted a one-hundred-person walkout and a ten-minute standing ovation. While the festival is known for its dramatic receptions, The House That Jack Built is, indeed, a polarizing film. It’s is either the nail in the coffin for von Trier’s career or the darkest comedy of 2018. Depends on who you ask.
As Ryan Hollinger puts it in the video essay belowThe House That Jack Built is what you get when you give a serial killer two and a half hours to gush about how great they are. On paper that sounds like a recipe for disaster. But on the screen, the iffy conceit materializes as a mocking character study of the kind of ego-trip that thinks it’s so charming and clever that it can get away anything.
Ultimately, The House that Jack Built is a film that turns a monster into a punchline. And if you let go of seriousness and pretension, the film reveals itself as an absurd, self-effacing, and divinely funny comedy.”    –Meg Shields, Film School Rejects, July 25, 2020
Check out our original post on The House that Jack Built (2018) here.

“Super Bowl 2020 commercial for Dashlane drops you in terrifying password hell” – CNET

“In the minute-long spot, called ‘Password Paradise,’ a hooded mythological creature ferries a guy in a boat through swampy waters reminiscent of the River Styx in Dante’s Inferno. Ahead, there’s a bright, welcoming light and the sound of angelic voices. But to enter this paradise, the guy will need his password — which he’s naturally forgotten.

“The Charon-like creature prompts him to answer his security questions. No, it has be to the name of his first pet. You wanted to be a dolphin trainer when you grew up? Sorry, wrong answer dude!” [. . .]    –Leslie Katz, CNET, January 31, 2020.

Contirbuted by Trey Turney (The Bolles School, ’22)

Lars von Trier’s The House That Jack Built (2018)

The-House-That-Jack-Built-Dante-Delacroix

“Director Lars von Trier has shared a new piece of art for his controversial The House That Jack Built that echoes Eugène Delacroix’s ‘The Barque Of Dante’ (1822), which is loosely based on fictional events taken from canto eight of Dante’s Inferno.

“’A leaden, smoky mist and the blazing City of the Dead form the backdrop against which the poet Dante endures a fearful crossing of the River Styx,’ wiki explains. ‘He is steadied by the learned poet of antiquity Virgil as they plough through waters heaving with tormented souls.’

“In the film, Matt Dillon (Wayward Pines) stars as a serial killer who views each of his murders as a work of art.” — Brad Miska, “The House That Jack Built Art Recreates Dante’s Inferno,” Bloody Disgusting, May 16, 2018

Throughout the film, Jack confesses his exploits in a retrospective narrative to a character named “Verge,” a nod to Virgil, voiced by Bruno Ganz and pictured in the role of Virgil in the image above.

“Deceased Souls Backed Up At River Styx Ferry Crossing During Underworld Transit Strike,” The Onion

“HADES—With no boatmen to take them across the dark stygian waters to the dry, sunless lands of the dead, millions of newly deceased souls were reportedly backed up on the banks of the River Styx during a transit strike by the Underworld Ferry Workers Union, sources confirmed Friday. ‘Yeah, I get it—Charon, Phlegyas, and the rest are expected to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week for all of eternity and have never seen their wages raise beyond one golden obol per passenger, but souls still need to journey into the afterlife, you know,’ said former St. Paul, MN resident Rick Hoffman, who has not advanced in line since succumbing to congenital heart failure five weeks ago. Onion-Deceased-Souls-River-Styx-Transit-Strike‘It’s like, I can physically see Cerberus standing on the other side. Someone needs to paddle us over there, and I don’t care if he’s organized labor or not.’ Hoffman added that he hoped the strike would end soon, as he was ‘getting pretty creeped out’ by the keening souls who, unable to pay the fare, are forced to wander the shores weeping and crying out for a hundred years.” –“Deceased Souls Backed Up At River Styx Ferry Crossing During Underworld Transit Strike,” The Onion, April 27, 2018

“My Exercise Ball Experience as Dante’s Inferno

Circle/Hour Five: Wrath

“I cross the river Styx with weakening legs, fusing vertebrae and congealing spinal fluid from this damn ball. I don’t know why I thought it would be easy. If I were really sullen about my experience, perhaps I would find myself horribly immersed under the black water of the Styx for all eternity. I guess I am not all that sullen. Instead, my wrathful side takes out my anger on my rundown. I’ll teach you to mess with me, Soundbite On A Boring Topic. You’ll pay for my pain.

“A total of ten people have now kicked the ball.” — Jeremy Markovich, “My Exercise Ball Experience as Dante’s Inferno: A Biblical Parable About a Non-Standard Option for Office Seating,” Comedy Corner on Medium.com (September 9, 2014)

Linda Pastan, “Summer Triptych” (2015)

Linda-Pastan-American-Academy-Poets-Summer-Triptych-CharonSelection from “Summer Triptych” by Linda Pastan:

“Swathed from head to toe
in seeming veils of muslin,
the figure in the Nantucket fog
poles along the shoreline on a flat barge.
It could be Charon transporting souls
across the River Styx, or just
another fisherman in a hoodie,
trolling for bluefish
on the outgoing tide.”

Published on Poem-a-Day (June 12, 2015)

Uber Reviews for Charon, Boatman of Hades

Uber-Reviews-Charon-Boatman-Hades
SERVING HADES AND THE SURROUNDING AREA
127 Fields of Punishment Ave.

[…]

“✩ ✩ ✩
KAREN T.
He arrived on time, so three stars for that. But he was not very fun. I said, ‘Hey, Charon,’ and he got offended, saying, ‘It’s pronounced “Karen.” ‘ So I was, like, ‘Oh, my God! Shut up! My name is Karen!,’ and then he rolled his burning fire-eyes and melted into the ether and left me there in the middle of the River Styx. Rude.

“✩
LISA M.
Big surprise. Yet another service that won’t take me to Brooklyn.” –Cirocco Dunlap, The New Yorker

South Park

south-parkIn “South Park” (episode 410), there is a reference to the River Styx condominiums in hell.

Contributed by Tyler Doherty (EHS student)

Charmed: “Styx Feet Under”

charmed-season-seven“Styx Feet Under” is the 5th episode of the 7th season of “Charmed” where Piper becomes an angel of death. There are various references to death and hell in the episode.

Contributed by Tyler Doherty (EHS student)