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.