Category Archives: Week 8


I think that Dante learned a lot throughout his journey through hell, the main point being sin. In his journey through hell, he discovered all the terrible ways someone who has sinned will live the rest of their time. All the different types of suffering that go with the type of live that you lived and what sins you committed with the nine levels creates a fear for Dante that he has to think about and change the way that he lives the rest of his life. Dante came out with a new outlook on life, that is for sure. For me, I did not learn anything that I didn’t already know. I saw that this story creates a fear of hell for Dante that influences him to live differently then before. Which it should, no one should want to live a life full of sin and end up in hell.


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?

While I think that it can be agreed upon that Dante changed after his journey through the levels of hell, I also grasped another aspect.  While I think Dante realized that how one lives their lives, the afterlife in hell (if one doesn’t go to heaven) will punish you accordingly to how you lived.  His journey to me, made it seem as if he was reassured about heaven.  Being able to witness hell, and seeing people he knew suffering, I think made him really rethink his way of life and if this is how terrible hell is, what will heaven be life?  The same kind of extreme but all good?

For me, I personally can still not, and I don’t think I ever will, be able to grasp eternity.  I know that I would not want to spend it in any of the nine levels of hell.

Inferno in us all

What do you think Dante learned on his journey through Hell? How does it differ from what you learned while reading about the journey?

  • The mood of Dante’s “Inferno,’ from the Divine Comedy, is filled with contempt and displeasure, and it is reflected in Dante’s language. “The wood of wilderness, savage and stubborn,’ “Death could scarce be bitterer’ (pg 1214), “Her craving body is never satisfied,’ (pg 1216), to name a few right off the bat. Dante Alighieri is a wonderful writer and utilizes metaphors, alligories, similes, as well as emotion in his writing, and also uses many historical and mythical references, as well as incorporating the epics of The Illiad and Epic of Gilgamesh. That is why Dante’s message is so clearly portrayed by Inferno, he is a master of literature. As a part of The Comedy, Dante uses gritty detail with old English humor, basically the humor behind human nature.
  • To appreciate the story, the social and political condition of Dante’s environment is eye-opening. Italy was going through an issue of church and state, and while Dante Alighieri was a big supporter of the separation of the two, he was exiled as opposing the Holy Roman empire. Thus, his literature about the consequences of religious intimidation and brimstone philosophies are indeed comical, and satirical, although it is hard to discern this from his serious writings.
  • In the beginning, the 1st-person perspective of the pilgrim is limping, and this cripple is a metaphor for original sin. I believe the Inferno is about saving ones soul, and the boundless search for the meaning in ones life, but it is also about reflecting on other issues in life, ones that are not necessarily ones belief. For example, the Inferno is all about the afterlife, and hell and consequence and evil and limbo, whereas Dante was a believer of the separation of church and state, and was punished for that belief. I believe Inferno is a satirical journey through establishing one’s self despite the obstacles and challenges.

What did Dante learn?

I think Dante probably learned about the depths of hell and the consequences of sin. I suppose that’s a pretty obvious answer, but that’s what I see in the poem. When Dante and Virgil are climbing out and back towards earth the poem says, “We never thought of resting while we climbed”. So after nine circles of some serious trauma exposure, as exhausting as that must have been, the journeying men are booking it out of there. Dante the character was exposed to evidence that there is corresponding punishment in hell to one’s sin on Earth. More broadly, there is corresponding consequence to our actions in life. Dante learned that this is not the sort of thing to take lightly, either because it will result in damnation or because our actions and behaviors in life matter and have effects.
What I learned from this poem is that through the lens of Dante’s day and time, the view of sin is very absolute and lacks the perspective that I think is necessary to really judge what consequences of actions may or may not be. We all know that decisions are complex, that most situations lie in a shade of grey. That is not to say that right and wrong don’t exist to some extent or that there aren’t real consequences to what is referred to as sin in this context, but I think extremism can be really dangerous and I see this story as sort of extremist viewpoint in terms of sin and sinners. For instance, in no worldview of mine is there the possibility that “sodomites” are swimming in any part of hell for homosexuality.

Dante’s Inferno

1. On his journey through hell, Dante learns a lot of small pieces of advice but the main idea of what he learns in the story is that sinning and not repenting will lead to consequences and in this case, Hell. Dante’s journey brings him through how Hell works basically by seeing the different levels in the circle of Hell.  He learns that the inhabitants of Hell are put in a level by the judge on basis of their worst sin while alive.  Examples of this are shown when Dante is brought through the first level which is titled Limbo for those who did not take a side neither good nor evil.  He is taken through the next couple levels of lust, greed and wrath.  Dante then starts in on the deeper levels of Hell for the more devastating sins such a violence and treason to Christ. After going through the final level of Hell, Dante walks back out the trail to go back to earth.  Dante sees the horrifying images of Hell and knows that he really doesn’t want any part of it.

As for what I learned in the story it was like a lot of sinful stories I have heard before.  When reading the story of Dante I couldn’t help but think that some of the sins that happened in the story, I either see or am part of.  I think this is more related to the old testament than today’s Christ because God is the ultimate in forgiveness and he knows that we will sin but if we ask for repentance and forgiveness, he will allow us into heaven.  I think the idea of Hell is for those who do not accept Christ into their lives and are then judged on what level of Hell they will be sent to.  This story did not really affect my beliefs or where I stand but it was a good reminder that we all have a choice to make.



DQ 8

Dante learned on his journey through hell that a life lived in unrepentant sin has consequences. This is because a large part of his journey is not about him but about the people that he meets along his journey and why they came about their punishment. Dante talked to many of the different people in each level of hell and learned why all of them ended up in that level.   Corresponding with this was the punishment that seem to cause suffering that aligned with that sin. So that every sinner who was in that level of hell could always be reminded of the actions that had brought them to hell. All of this gave Dante a view of what sin is that showed him the difference of those that go to heaven and those that go to hell.

While I read The Divine Comedy I was reminded of the journey that someone takes as they spiral down in desperation before they hit rock bottom and start to change a habit. This is because as Dante’s journey goes on and as he travels through the different levels of hell he knows that he is going deeper into the darkness. Though at the same time the punishments that are faced by the sinners in that level could be either worse or not as bad as the punishments faced by all the previous sinners. That to me seems like whats its like on the journey to rock bottom because even though you know the situation is getting worse some parts are easier to deal with than others. The final part of The Divine Comedy is what really made me think of this. For Dante as he reached the very bottom of hell and as soon as there were no further depths to plunge into he started to climb up into heaven. A journey like that sounds exactly like falling to rock bottom and climbing your way back up.

Experience Dante

Crossing to Dis...

Crossing to Dis…

What do you think Dante learned on his journey through Hell? How does it differ from what you learned while reading about the journey?

The most literal and obvious lessons, which Dante learned on his journey through hell, are the consequence of sin and the suffering that has befallen so many “good & great” people of history. Dante’s initial fear to climb the mountain, symbolizing the path to heaven or salvation, is frightening at best and the trinity of powerful guardians evokes a fear in Dante that he can not surpass initially. With hope, symbolized by Beatrice, Dante embarks upon his journey with Virgil as his teacher and experiences an eye for an eye style of punishment, where each soul is tormented with a relatively similar pain to that sin, which they were consumed by in life. These consequences are illustrated in each stage bringing an understanding of truth and the possible fate that should await any soul, should they not mend their ways and repent in life. He is initially taken aback at the many great philosophers and teachers of Greek enlightenment, when Dante states, “O glory of the sciences and arts, who are these souls enjoying special honor, dwelling apart from all the others here?” He learns that these great men had not necessarily sinned, but simply were not alive before the time of Christ and their great works brought them favor in the depths of purgatory. Continuing along the path, Dante meets many souls, who in all their pain and sorrow, seam to either wish to be alone, or curse others for their current position. Dante does not further his initial pity for the lost souls, but begins to scorn and hate them as he experiences more cursed souls. Dante shows this most when he refuses to remove the ice covering the eyes of a tortured prior man of faith, after this man fulfilled Dante’s desire to know who he was and what brought him to that fate. Through his experience, Dante has learned to despise the wicked, but also that he himself will not pursue any of these vices, which have brought him to previous crossroads. The path to salvation has been revealed and the awareness that is expected of people in adulthood has now been bestowed upon him in the most literal sense that he is not fully responsible for his actions.

A few issues, which are perceived as sinful in Dante’s time are now commonly practiced, such as usury, or money made on interest. If this were true, then all the investors in banks  and many stocks would be on a fast track to Hell. This is just an example of how I have learned to pity many of those that face a possible eternity in suffering, in contrast with Dante’s scorn for those same people. Dante learns to despise all sin for what it is and those that commit it. I have seen more examples of how people who act on instincts or emotions prospectively damn themselves and this is not fair or just and makes it fairly impossible that judgement could be such a cookie-cutter fashion.

Dante and His Inferno

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?

Dante's Inferno, all 9 levels are bad enough.  But what if eternal damnation is simply seperation from God?  Since He is light, the opposite would be darkness, forever.  Something to ponder.

Dante’s Inferno, all 9 levels are bad enough. But what if eternal damnation is simply seperation from God? Since He is light, the opposite would be darkness, forever. Something to ponder.  Painting by D. Alighieri, “Hell”.

Dante’s tale is one that I have to admit I have a hard time grappling with. On the one hand, I can see Professor Mozzatta’s point, that the tale is one in which Dante is asking questions about life, politics, right and wrong, justice, agency, etc. A sort of ethics discourse. But on the other hand, the story seems to have shades of personal life to the point of being “heavy” with matters that seem to trouble Dante.  In the beginning, he awakes, lost and alone in life and this apparently is what the Dark Wood represents.  As he descends with Virgil into the various levels or Circles, he frequently begins to feel for the poor wretches he sees suffering.  If he valued them in life, then he continues to pity their plight, but if they were an enemy in life, his pity is severely limited.  Virgil quietly seems to urge Dante on, as he levels barbs and spite at enemies that he sees suffering.  Interesting.  I would think that this would land Dante in the hypocrisy level with those poor souls.  From the point at which the two travelers reach their descent into the Eighth Circle, the story seems to take on more of a “Lord of the Rings” aspect.  A constant leap from one adventure to another.  In each one of these adventures, it seems as though another “famous deceiver” or the like is fighting off whatever terror he must deal with, but is able to spend a moment talking with Dante and Virgil, getting attacked again or bursting into flame once they have made their point or received information about life back in Italy.

As time goes by, it I think it is as if the “Pilgrim” becomes more and more callous towards the “sinners”.  In the second to last Canto, he does not honor his promise to aid Friar Alberigo.  “To be mean to him was a generous reward.”  He turns away, even though he has uttered an oath, claiming the same punishment for himself if he fails to keep the oath.  This then clearly indicates that whatever history of betrayal Dante is referring to justifies his treatment of the victim, frozen in the ice.  This trend toward the trapped souls continues throughout the “Comedy”, starting with struggle in the boat, while crossing the river Styx.

Unlike the Pilgrim, I am not under any illusion as to my own worthiness.  I believe I qualify for hell on several levels.  I don’t know what hell is really like.  I do believe in it, and I do believe it is exactly what the Good Book says it is.  There is however, one point that I feel I can share an agreement with Dante on.  Early in the voyage, he encounters those that sense and long for God’s comfort and presence, but are utterly separated from His being.  Except for the “Lake of Fire” referred to in Biblical text, the only other description for Hell is seperation from God for eternity, …which is a very long time.



Now, I am not an expert and I am simply expressing opinion based on what I have understood, but God is light..pure bright light.  Away from Him is nothing.  So, when He says “Depart from me, I never knew you”…I think there is nothing but eternal darkness.  Call me cracked, but I just don’t think that humanity can even fathom what this must be like.  I guess that’s why I believe it to be so.  It is unfathomable, …just like God.



In the beginning of the story Dante pities the sinners of hell but as the story progresses Dante slowly learns to not have sympathy for the sinners of hell and adopt a much less pitying  outlook toward the punishment forced upon the sinners, viewing this as a reflection of divine justice. Seeing that the actions of one’s life reflects the quality of one’s afterlife.


I myself have always believed that my actions either positively or negatively affect my life and that of  those around me as well as possibly having some determination on my possible after-life whether or not it exists. Reading Dante’s Inferno again as an adult with more grounded beliefs than I may of had as a teenager gave me more insight into literature of a religious context, allowing me to analyze it with a more discerning eye. That being said this was always an interesting read with great detail and interesting analogies.

Dante’s Inferno

Dante’s inferno depicts the divine justice of God as a deserved punishment for the sins committed in life, representative of the immoral path chosen by humans.  Among the hidden lessons taught to Dante, an individual’s chosen path cannot be undecided.  Rather the mind has to be determined to be faithful to the moral laws, described in the comedy, that for Dante were a representation of the Christian path.  For example, at the beginning of Dante’s journey through hell, he saw a group of souls that were constantly stung by hornets, because they refused to make a choice of whether to follow God path or not, including in this group were the fallen Angels who did not took a side, God or lucifer, when lucifer was exiled from heaven.  Second, any deviations or infractions to the “Christian’ laws were condemned, and ignorance does not exonerated the individual, even if they lived virtuously.  This can be seen in the Limbo, where the people that lived in the times before Christ resided.  Although, not tortured physically, they were tortured emotionally, regretting the missed opportunity of getting to know Christianity.  A third depicted message, was that even if a soul committed multiple sins, punishments were specific for the most nurtured sin by each soul.  This message was characterized by Minos, the judge of the underworld, who discerned each individual’s soul and sentenced it to a particular circle of hell, where the souls were grouped by the worst sin committed.  This take us to a fourth lesson, sins and punishments were categorized, with the most painful and gruesome punishments for the most severely sins, starting hell with the least severe and finishing with the worst sin, which was treachery to God (Judas).  The sins were grouped as follows, with the symbol of less than (<) meaning less severe than, in this case:  limbo<lust<gluttony<greed<wrath< heresy<violence<fraud<treachery.  Some of the circles were also subclassified.  Fifth, each punishment seemed to be resembling the characteristics of the sin itself or portraying a suffering contrary to the luxury of the sin.  For example, flatterers deceived people with their words and took advantage of them (fraud), so they are fed excrement, since their words meant crap.  Finally, souls are punished for eternity.  At the end, when Dante climbed back to the world of the living, the first thing he described is the sky with the stars, which to me it indicated that Dante believed that everything he saw in hell was a representation of God’s just order, and a reminder that we are God’s creation.

In my opinion, every person has committed one of  the sins portrayed in Dante’s hell.  The epic piece does not really indicate or represent to what extent a sin is considered punishable by hell.  For example a person can deceive a criminal to save their children.  I do not see Dante’s hell as an ideal representation of God’s justice, since justice takes in consideration not only an immoral act in itself, but also the consequences associated with the action, as well as the intentions or motive of such actions.  Also, justice has equality and mercy to some degree.  There is nothing merciful in condemning people from the times before Christ because they were ignorant.  It would be like condemning a blind because they could not see.  The bible offers numerous stories for which God has forgiven sinful people.  Among this ones, the famous king David.  I do not believe God only sees mere acts, the intentions of the heart is a phrase commonly emphasized in the bible.  I think Dante’s hell was more a representation of the political-religious traditional believes from his culture in his times.