The Divine Comedy
Penalties and the Crime
Dante gives us a deeper view of what actually happens there. The punishments are fair in relation to what crime one has committed (Canto III). At the hell’s entrance, we find those who were of indecisive nature. Indecisiveness is worse than making a wrong choice. The stinging from the gadflies and hornets (Canto III, 22, 66) was to keep them going. Those in Limbo had a chance of going to heaven. It was not their fault that they were there (Canto III). The punishments get tougher as Dante descends lower into hell. Those who have violated against the lives of others and themselves are punished in the seventh hell. It is considered that violating your own life (suicide) is a worse sin than killing someone else. This is because one undermines God’s will over their lives thus ending it. For this reason, if they find no use of life in the first life, they will not be given another chance in the second life (Alghieri & Charles 50).
Differences between Upper and Lower Hell
The punishments in the lower hell were softer as compared to those in the upper hell. This is because those sins committed in the upper hell were excusable. Those who committed crimes in the upper hell were driven by emotions and compromising situations while those in the lower hell committed their crimes due to their selfish wants and their disrespect for God. For example, Francesca and Paolo committed adultery for their love for each other while Capaneus committed blasphemy, a crime against God (Alighieri & Stanley 200). The upper hell has complete single circles while the lower hell is divided into other sections. For example, the seventh, eighth and ninth circle are further divided into rings, bolgia and rounds respectively. This is because there are different forms of violence, fraud and treachery, which deserve different punishments. When Dante was in the upper hell, he felt pity for what the sinners were going through but as he descended into the lower hell, he felt that what those people did deserved what they were going through (Kirkpatrick 47).
Differences between my Perspective and Dante’s Perspective of Hell
I do not see hell as being divided into the different circles Dante describes to the reader. Hell is one place, and all punishments are viewed equal. I see hell as a place where those who sin will be punished according to the punishment given by God and not hell’s judge (Satan), as described in the poem. I see hell as a place of burning but not the different punishments described in the poem. Hell is a place where no one gets a second chance but rather spends the rest of his life in agony. However, Dante gives a contrary of this when he is told that the “Mighty one” comes occasionally and redeems the ones who are in the first circle (Canto IV). In the same context, I do have a perception that children go to hell (Canto IV). This is because they are innocent and are only referred to know what is good or bad when they reach the age of twelve. God is fair and I do not feel that He can entitle small children who died shortly after birth to internal hell and misery just because they were not baptized. I did not feel that there were other people except Satan and the devil or that the sinners could talk since they were spirits. However, Dante shows us something different.
Public Figures in Hell
Princess Diana would be in the second circle. This is because she was an adulterer by cheating on her husband (Prince Charles), with the man she later came to have a car accident with and died. Osama bin Laden would belong to the seventh circle, in the outer ring. This is because he was violent against people and killed in large numbers. Prince John, in Robin Hood times, would be in the fourth circle. This is because of his greed for he imposed high taxes on the citizens for his own good.
Adolph Hitler would be punished in the sixth circle. This is because he believed the soul and the body died together. He had no fear of anybody. He was only driven by his own thoughts, will and desires. Delilah, of the bible, would be punished in the fourth circle. This is because she used her seduction powers in order to get Samson’s secret. She would be serving her punishment in the first bolgia where seducers and panderers are found.
Idi Amin would belong to the third circle of hell. This is because he was gluttonous and used his presidential sit in Uganda for his selfish gains at times. There are times he even killed the disabled by throwing them in the lake in the name of cleaning up the city. Dante encounters Ciacco in this circle, who makes a prediction of a fight that would occur in the future in the city of Florence due to such acts of gluttony.
Michael Jackson would be in the eighth circle. This is because he sexually violated children. He would be in the first ring where people who violated against people and property served their punishment. Luther Vandross would be in the first circle because he was known for writing and singing songs thought not religious ones. However, he had not received Christ. He was not known for doing any wrong.
If I were to go to hell, I would to the second circle. This is because I am not a bad person, I believe in God but I have not accepted Christ. I would just be grieved for not being with God (Canto IV). I would have died without accepting Christ. Most probably, I would be taken to heaven at some point after many years.
Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy. Everypoet.com, 2009. Web. May 12, 2011.
Alighieri, Dante & Charles Eliot Norton. Dante’s Inferno (the Divine Comedy, Volume 1, Hell). Stilwell, KS: Digireads.com Publishing, 2005. Print.
Alighieri, Dante & Stanley Appelbaum. The divine comedy: Selected Cantos. Toronto Ontario: Dover Publications, Inc, 2000. Print.
Kirkpatrick, Robin. Dante, the Divine comedy. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Print.