Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Dante's Hell

When I read the head notes for The Divine Comedy and saw the the picture of hell, I thought I wouldn't enjoy Dante's Inferno because of the way hell is so rigidly structured. When I think of heaven and hell I don't think of them as having different circles or groups of people, much less a super rigid structure. In my mind, heaven and hell more so represent a place for good people and a place for bad people, respectively. I actually don't know if I believe in heaven and hell... but thats besides the point. If I did, indeed, believe in heaven and hell, the hell that Dante illustrates is nowhere near the hell I imagine, but he portrayed heaven similarly to how I picture heaven. However, I just finished reading the first 4 cantos in Inferno and I really enjoyed it. Maybe Dante's portrayal of hell won't irk me as much as I thought it would.

5 comments:

Miranda Martinez said...

Even though I didn't know much about Dante or his version of Hell, I've always been interested in understanding it. When I first learned that Dante had created 9 circles of Hell, I was skeptical. I, too, have always imagined Hell in slightly more mythological sense, but with the same idea that good people go to Heaven and bad go to Hell. I've enjoyed reading Dante's cantos. I can see his urge for readers to "embrace" Christianity and his unique depiction of justice to one's sins. I see him as sort of a literary prophet - spreading his political ideals and beliefs to the masses through literature.

Megan Hoolahan said...

To me, the idea that good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell is a little less comforting than the idea that there are 9 layers. If people go to Hell only because they are not Christian but are still good, I hope they aren’t suffering from the same punishment as a murderer…… The idea that levels separate them seems a lot more reasonable. But like Miranda and Samantha, I’ve never thought in too much detail about the structure of Hell until reading Dante.

Kincy GIbson said...

The 9 levels of hell bother me too. In todays culture some of the sins in the deepest levels aren't as grave as preceding levels. Violence against neighbors is in the circle before flatterers. In todays society, violence is much worse than false flattery. Society is less judgmental towards soothsayers and hypocrites. If Dante would create this same hell today, i think he would switch the seventh and eighth circles.

Brooke M. Hathaway said...

I think the way Dante structured Hell is completely unrealistic. It pretty much seems like stereotyping to me. He's basically like all those who are lustful go to circle two, all those who are gluttonous go to circle three, and so on. People are so much more than just lustful, gluttonous, violent, ect. For example, what if someone grows up to be gluttonous because they grew up poor and without food? What I mean is, people are the way the are for a reason. Does Mino take those reason into consideration before damning them to their prescribe circle of Hell? Or does he just see that at one time a wife committed adultery and ship her straight to circle three without knowing the whole story?

Amy Clement said...

Dante's depiction of Hell had so much to do with him trying to represent Christian beliefs within the context of Greek/Roman knowledge. Just like in the Inferno, the Aeneid has distinct separation between the different areas of sin (which itself is a Christian idea). Dante's separation is much more distinct, however, with a hierarchy of punishment. Although the Aeneid and Roman ideas of hell provide a nice foundation for Dante's story, it is just not possible to perfectly match up Christian and Roman beliefs. By using the Roman context, however, Dante probably was able to reach so many more than if he had stuck within Christian doctrine.