1. What do you think Dante learned on his journey through Hell? How does it differ from what you learned while reading about the journey?
When we first meet Dante, he’s going through something like a mid-life crisis. He’s lost his way, in a manner of speaking, and needs to find a way back to being a faithful follower of God. By following Virgil into the depths of Hell, Dante learns that your actions in this world dictate what happens to you in the next. Each level of Hell is reserved for individual sins – for example, Circle 1 is reserved for the virtuous people who haven’t sinned, but also haven’t accepted Christ, while Circle 9 is reserved for the Treacherous. Each of these Circles is accompanied by a very specific punishment; in Circle 1, the virtuous pagans are overwhelmed by a longing for God and will never be able to see Him, and in Circle 9, the trecherous are subjected to an ice treatment of varying degrees. All of these punishments lead Dante to realize that he had better get back on the straight and narrow path and find peace with God. I, personally, never really thought too much of Hell. I’ve always been taught that Hell is the place where sinners go to pay for their sins, that it’s basically a miserable place where you’re surrounded by liars, thieves, and murderers. The punishments that the sinful recieve never actually came up – it was just understood that Hell is an awful place that you don’t ever want to go. It’s interesting that Dante thought all of this out and meted out punishments that he saw fitting for the various sins.
I think Dante’s interpretations of hell can be attributed to the time in which he lived. His dark portrayal of hell and the punishments suffered there a direct correlation with the way the church in this time was teaching its believers that sin was evil and gods punishments were harsh.
I agree with you. I think Dante probably borrowed from other traditional teachings of the time. Fear is often a method to coerce the masses and the Catholic Church of the era certainly didn’t hold back from crowd control.
I agree, I think much of his imagery and punishments came out of the church’s teaching of the time. During the last discussion, there were a lot of people who didn’t agree that fraud would come after violence, but literature is heavily influenced by the themes of the time period and especially what the church was teaching at the time. therefore, while today we might not understand it, it was probably generally understood at the time.
Amy, once again, less wordy and well written. I like your style. Dante was a difficult read. So much to keep track of and also very repetitious as far as the same pattern. Terror, torture, darkness, sinners, “by the way, are you a Florentine? I thought so…” You mention some of Dante’s punishments. I wonder about them too, they are after all, not far from some of the horror flicks we have on constantly. I think a parallel could be made between the pre-terror misbehavior of the victims in a horror flick with Dante’s sinners.