I believe Dante learned on his journey through Hell that people will be held accountable in the afterlife for their actions taken on Earth. Dante learned that one can be banished to Hell in the afterlife for reasons as simple as not becoming baptized to carrying out an act of betrayal of one’s fellow man. The level of punishment one will have to endure in Hell is dependent on the degree of the sin one partakes in, and this corresponds directly with the various circles of Hell. In order to avoid this fate, one should live their lives righteously according to Christian virtues. But what is more important in Inferno is that Dante wishes to relay a message to fellow Italians. This message is that the layers of deceit and unrest, which helped lead to the downfall of ancient Rome and contribute to the more present day (circa, Dante’s lifetime) city-state infighting, stem from excessive wrangling on the part of agenda driven Roman and Italian charlatan’s. Inferno attempts to put leaders and ordinary citizens on notice that continued greed and disunity will lead not only to continued strife, but also eternal damnation. This is evident in the many different Greek era, early Christian era, Roman era, and Italian figures that are of historical significance whom Dante witnesses suffering in Hell.
What I learned personally from reading Inferno is that Dante provided the reader with an in depth portrayal of one man’s vision of Hell. Although there were some sketchy observations about causes which led certain individuals to Hell in the afterlife, I think the message that actions of an individual which serve to harm another individual are wicked and indeed deserving of punishment. But ultimately what I learned after reading the journey is how little I understand about ancient and Italian history emanating from the middle ages. As I tried to examine each minute footnote for greater understanding of who an individual was that Dante observed in Hell, my mind was left with more questions than answers about what it was that I thought about a particular aspect of this reading. All I ultimately know is I have more reading to do on this subject. And if Hell is anything like Dante suggested, it is a really bad place to spend eternity.