Divine Retribution ( in Italian contrapasso) is clearly shown in canto 28 byshowing the punishment of the sowers of schism and scandal in the 9th bolgia ofcircle 8.
To begin this canto, Dante talks of the many wars in Puglia(southeastern Italy) and across the peninsula which have been known as thebloodiest. He does this to show that this 9th bolgia is far bloodier than these,and beyond description. Those in this bolgia are punished by having to walk atrack where they are cut open and slashed, but their wounds heal only to be cutagain. The father of the worldwide religion of Islam, Mahomet, is placed here,along with his follower, Ali.Order now
To illustrate the severity of the punishments towhich these people are under, Dante uses the idea of blood and bones withdecaying flesh. He states that the extent is incomprehensible, and cannot becaptured by words, yet he says that if the bones and blood of the many wars thathave plagued the peninsula of Italy could be piled up, they would not compare tothe sight of the 9th bolgia. The punishment is extremely grotesque and demeaningas shown by the description of Mahomet as being “ripped open from his chin towhere we fart. Between his legs his guts spilled out, with the heart and othervital parts, and the dirty sack that turns to *censored* whatever the mouthgulps down. ” The disgust that accompanies this description must be intendedand it is no coincidence that is the father of the nation of Islam. With Mahometand Ali are others which can be classified as being sowers of scandal as opposedto schism in the religious sense.
They are the causes of wars, troubles, andmany persons discord and death. Some have their throats slits, others cutbeyond recognition, and others have their arms chopped off. Bertran de Born, whocounciled the young prince Henry to revolt against his father, King Henry II ofEngland, is among those. With the young princes death, brought about theimprisonment of Bertran. He states that since his head is the home of his evilthoughts, and with his plan unfoiled, the decapitation of his head is fittingfor the “perfect contrapasso.
” So he walks with his head in his handswinging by his hair as if it were a lantern (again the notion of his head beingthe encasement of light and ideas). In a whole, the implications of classifyingMahomet and Ali in the this 9th bolgia lead one to think that Dante was making aconclusion on the entire religion itself. To say the least it is devastating andvery narrow minded, but more importantly it shows the extent of disrespect shownby Dante on two levels: the fact that Mahomet and Ali are place so low in helland are punished in such a disgusting place and manner; and that they areaccompanied by such persons as those who are responsible for creating strife. This implies that they too can be classified as those who are instigators, whichis patronizing for those who believe them to be prophets (Muslims do greatlyoutnumber Catholics). Therefor, in the sense of contrapasso, this placement ofthese religious leaders would be unjust, for, this is a worldwide religion, andno one on earth can state that they are sure of the true religion.
Themore intelligent response would be that all religions must be respected, and notdeemed frivolous or un-important. I say this not to directly criticize Dantesolely, yet the idea of religious prejudice, which was still widely practiced byCatholics less that 50 years ago, and is still today. It is not just byCatholics, and no one is innocent. It is the incessant notion of religioussupremacy that has come to be believed by so many,who will not accept the ideaof the validity of other religions. It is the idea of conformity that yieldsprejudice.BibliographyDante’s Inferno, Canticle (Book) 1 of his Divine Comedy