Tuesday, November 1, 2011

SATAN

I think our discussion today in class about Satan was very thought-provoking. It's interesting how Dante portrays the devil as such an essentially irrelevant character. One would expect the final level of hell to include a terrifying confrontation with the frightening Evil One. However, it the actual meeting is quite lackluster. He's as scary as, or maybe even less scary than, the other guards of the circles, like Cerberus or Minos. He also seems to have about equal power with these minions. To me, I find that Satan is just another punished soul. The only thing that distinguishes him is that he was the first to betray God. He's so powerless which leads me to believe that he is more just the "face" of hell than the real power behind it. I think in Dante's Inferno, God actually determines punishment and merely uses Satan as a guise in order to evoke fear... and maybe even keep his reputation??

10 comments:

Ravin S said...

I honestly thought that as we entered the final circle of Hell, everything became less horrific. Sure Ugolino gnawing on the guy's head was creepy, but it was by no means scarier than the tyrants in the river of blood or Cerebrus. I expected Satan to talk to Virgil and Dante and be extremely pissed off that they were there. Dante is not dead, so Satan would want him to leave. I'd agree that Satan is just another soul who committed treason against God and now is forced to live in Hell. He is essentially powerless in the underworld and it just shows that God is omnipotent.

mere said...

Yep. They pretty much used him as a ladder to get out of hell... talk about anticlimactic.

mere said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shaina Lu said...

Anticlimactic, that was the exact word that popped up in my head as I read the last Canto. I definitely agree that Satan is more just like another sinner being punished then the ruler of hell. To Meredith's point regarding his power, I would even argue that Satan has less power then his minions. For example, Virgil and Dante have to distract Cerberus to get past him whereas the climb over Satan as if he's not even there. Satan seems more like part of the geography he is a sinner/guard in hell.

Mallory said...

I agree that Satan was definitely a let down in the last canto. He has no power and actually can't even move. I think many people have this idea of hell as hot and fire-y but Dante's hell is the exact opposite. The final ring is an ice lake, which is not as scary as all the fire we imagine hell to be like. Dante portrays his own hell in a unique way that makes it different from the everyday image.

ParkerC said...

As Ravin said, it shows God is omnipotent. If you read this back then you'd probably cheer or something, seeing that Satan is powerless.

sara pendleton said...

What's interesting to me isn't that Satan seems not to have much power but that if God knows all and decides all, why are the guards in the city of Dis able to resist? Eventually God over rules them but however they resist. I feel like in Dante's hell, resistance is pointless BUT still sinners resist God. I feel like predestination would make since here BUT it seems like everyone has free will. If Dante describes God as omniscient, why doesn't He know if someone is going to sin and be condemned to hell? If He loves people (in the context of Dante's Inferno) why is it Divine will that people who stray from the Way are punished without hope? It appears (strictly within the context of Dante's Inferno) that whatever we associate with "Satan-like" like punishment etc, it seems like God's will in this case which is weird because it almost demonizes the Divine Will which is a strange literary choice I think and sort of reminds me of Milton's almost glorification of Satan.

sara pendleton said...

I wonder why Satan wasn't creepier because he defiantly could be; I accidentally read the canto about thieves and it was pretty scary. I mean the river of blood, Cerberus, and tar-pits were all creepier to me than Satan.

alyb said...

There was so much build up for Satan's circle of hell. 33 cantos to be exact. I thought his circle was a real let down because I wasn't frightened at all. But I'm starting to think that it might be because everyone has their own idea of what Satan is like and Dante's was just a lot different than ours i guess.

christine said...

Even though his image may have been somewhat of a letdown, I really loved how its different from the usual stereotype of Satan. I found this picture to help me visualize Dante's Satan but it still doesn't capture the complete description.

http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Books/Pix/pictures/2008/11/06/dantexxxiv460.jpg