“For most of the 217 years since its founding under a buttonwood tree on Wall Street, the New York Stock Exchange was the high temple of American capitalism. Behind its Greco-Roman facade, traders raised a Dante-esque din in their pursuit of the almighty dollar. Good times or bad, the daily melee on the cavernous trading floor made the Big Board the greatest marketplace for stocks in the world.” [. . .] –Graham Bowley, The New York Times, October 14, 2009
“. . .Yes, Bernard L. Madoff went to jail on Thursday after pleading guilty to a gargantuan Ponzi scheme, and yes, he may face the rest of his life in prison when he is sentenced to as much as 150 years on June 16. But if even that dose of clinical justice seems like paltry penance to his many bilked and ruined investors, including charities, they can always turn to literature for a further measure of satisfaction–and to pronounce, perhaps, another kind of final judgment.
Mr. Madoff was 700 years too late to join Dante’s Who’s Who of sinners, but it is easy to imagine where the poet would consign this scam artist, who admitted to stealing as much as $65 billion: to the Pit, the Ninth (and deepest) Circle of Hell. It is where sins of betrayal are punished in a sea of ice fanned frigid by the six batlike wings of the immense, three-faced, fanged and weeping Lucifer. . .
It is fitting, Mr. Pinsky says. Betrayal destroys the trust that binds humanity, and with it, the betrayer himself. Dante was consumed by the sadness and mystery of sin–and what it did to the sinner.” [. . .] –Ralph Blumenthal, The New York Times, March 14, 2009
“. . . Burt Ross, who lost $5 million in the fraud, cited Dante’s The Divine Comedy, in which the poet defined fraud as ‘the worst of sin’ and expressed the hope that, when Mr. Madoff dies — ‘virtually unmourned’ — he would find himself in the lowest circle of hell.” [. . .] –Diana B. Henriques, The New York Times, June 29, 2009
See also a similar CBS article here.
“Think things are grim for Wall Streeters in the here and now? Envision the scene in hell, where the Devil is talking bonus cuts, the Pit of Remorse is packed with frustrated financiers, and trophy wives are weeping over the eternal torment of their broke husbands’ company. Related: A gallery of Edward Sorel’s rogues.” –Edward Sorel and Richard Lingeman, Vanity Fair, June 2009
Contributed by Patrick Molloy