annonIn his poem The Divine Comedy. The Inferno, Dante Alighieri gives hisaudience a clear vivid presentation of what he as a follower of theChristian religion perceives to be hell. Dante shows that human sin ispunishable in various degrees of severity and that this is dependent onthe nature of one^?s sinful actions. He sets forth what could very well bethe most fully developed Christian understanding of justice on earth, andthat is; that what we do as human beings will determine what happens to usin the event of death based on God^?s judgment. In writing his poem Danteuses symbolism, allegorism and imagery among other literary effects toplace his poem analogically to life as it was during his day and age. Dante structures The Inferno around thirty four cantos.Order now
Each of thesecantos marks a steady progression from the mildest to the worst of sins. The cantos depict sinners under various forms of punishment which arecommensurate to the nature of their sins. Dante categorizes sin into three different categories of fraud,incontinence and violence. In canto I he mentions three animals namely , aleopard, a lion and a she-wolf.
These animals act as symbolisms for thevarious types of sins. The sin^?s depicted in canto XVIII are symbolizedby the she-wolf which acts as a symbol for the sins of fraud. The sins offraud are placed the furthest from God in the deepest pits of hell, nearSatan. In canto XVIII Dante and his guide Virgil find themselves in theeighth circle, called the Malebolge.
It is in the Malebolge, that each ofthe kinds of simple fraud are punished in the concentric ditches. In the first ditch, Dante sees two files of naked sinners each running inopposite direction, whipped by demons. These sinners are the panderers andthe seducers. Dante recognizes Venedico Caccianemico, a man he once knew. Venedico in this case is depicted as having sold his sister, Ghisola toserve the will and lust of another man, Marquis. Dante at this point usesa fellow contemporary to show what happens when one goes against the willof God and sins.
Venedico betrays his family ties and his indifference inthis act results in his eternal punishment of being whipped by demons. Also mentioned as having been punished is Jason, who suffers punishmentfor having seduced and abandoned Hypsipyle and Medea. For these twosinners Dante^?s allegory revolves around the law of retributive justicewhere both Venedico^?s and Jason^?s psychology^?s at the time ofcommitting sin are tied in with the punishment of whip lashing by demons. Both sinners place their personal needs and interests above others and arenow placed under the whip lashing and oppressive command of indifferentdemons. Dante and Virgil move over to a bridge and below it, Dante sees the ditchof the flatterers.
It is in this trench that persons who had sinned asflatterers are punished by being made to wallow in a river of humanexcrement from which emanates nauseating fumes. Dante recognizes AlessioInterminelli da Lucca. Allesio is smeared all over with excrement. Virgilalerts Dante of the presence of yet another sinner, Tha?s. Tha?s ispunished in the same way as Alessio, but is made to alternatively rise andcrouch in the river of excrement.
Tha?s is punished for being a prostituteand for a flattering lie that she told while in the trade. The punishmentthat this two consequently suffer is the eternal stench and filth of theditch. Tha?s in this canto perpetuates the image of ingenuine love whichturns out to be a mere outlet for bodily urges and needs. From theperspective of Tha?s^? and Allesio^?s punishment we see that they bothundergo the process of retributive justice. Flatterers, due to their abuseof language wallow in excrement which metaphorically symbolizes the wordsthey used in flattering others on earth. In conclusion it can be seen that Dante views fraud as a sin thatseparates human beings from God^?s grace and love.
Dante presents to hisaudience a poem that creates a better understanding of the consequences ofsinful human actions. He bases The Inferno on the teachings found in theChristian religion and offers to the audience a typological reading thatmakes it clear that what will happen to each individual in the after lifewill be determined solely by one^?s actions on earth. Works ConsultedFaulie, Wallace A reading of Dante^?s Inferno , The University of Chicago Press,1981 199-123Alighieri, Dante The Divine Comedy. Inferno, The Norton Anthology, WorldMasterpieces. General Ed.
Maynard Mack 6th ed. W. W. Norton and Company ,1992.1273-1423