Getting What They Deserve: Punishment in Dante’s Inferno Dante’s The Inferno is his own interpretation of the circles of hell. The people that Dante places in hell tried to validate their offenses and have never seen the injustice of their crime or crimes. They were each placed in a specific circle in Hell, Dante has nine circles in his hell. Each circle holds those accountable for that specific crime. Each circle has its own unique and fitting punishment for the crime committed. There are three different main types of offenses; they are incontinence, violence, and fraud.
These offenses are divided into Dante’s nine rings of Hell. Each of these rings has a progressively worse punishment, starting with crimes of passion and ending with crimes of fraud. The self-centered crimes are in rings one through five, the violent crimes are held in rings six through eight, and ring nine holds the fraudulent criminals. The people contained in the first five rings of Hell failed to restrain themselves. The punishments for these crimes are nonviolent except for the wrathful.
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The souls in the first ring oh Hell gave into the temptation of another religion and now only grieve their choice of non-Christianity. The second ring of Hell holds the persons that lusted after another and committed adultery. The punishment in the second ring is a continuous storm that blows the souls in a non stop circle to symbolize the lustful’s ability to throw other’s feelings wildly around. The gluttons are in the third circle, their punishment is to lie in rank sludge comprised of black snow and freezing rain to symbolize the slobbery of their life on earth.
The fourth circle contains the sinners who had greater concern for materials than anything else; the hoarders and squanderers are performing the opposite action that they carried out on earth. The deceased are punished by moving heavy weights back and forth; the hoarders are pushing the rocks out of the center and the squanderers are pushing the weights into the center. The fifth circle is composed of two different sinners; both the wrathful and the sloths. The wrathful are fighting each other on the surface of the Styx river while the sloths are lying at the bottom of the river doing nothing.
The next three rings and sub-rings of Hell are composed of violent crimes against both ones self and others. The sixth ring is reserved for the heretics who are engulfed in flames. This symbolizes the problems that they tried to create by challenging the Christian church and its practices. The seventh ring has three sub-categories consisting of violence against people and property, suicide, and those against god, nature, and order. The sinners that were violent against people and property are punished by being immersed in boiling blood, which is equivalent to the level of violent crimes they committed.
The punishment for suicide is being planted and growing as a tree, when a branch is torn off the person feels the equivalent pain of having an arm or leg taken off. This is a fitting punishment because in their life the only relief from suffering was through killing themselves and in hell they live with that agony similarly to the way people on earth are suffering over the deceased. The third and final sub-ring of the seventh circle holds those against god, nature, and order. They are punished by either walking, sitting or lying on flaming sand while hot ashes fall from above.
Their position is based on their lack of respect for what they offended. The last ring in this group of violent crimes is ring eight of Hell. However, this eighth circle has ten sub-levels, or Bolgia, including; panderers and pimps, flatterers, simony, sorcerers and false prophets, corrupt politicians, hypocrites, thieves, fraudulent advisors, scandals, and falsifiers. All ten of these crimes have an appropriate punishment in their sub-circle in the eighth ring of Hell. The panderers and pimps are whipped while the flatterers are covered in excrement.
Those that committed simony are upside down while their feet are on fire, sorcerers and false prophets literally have their heads on backwards so they can not see where they are going in relation to foreshadowing. Corrupt politicians are punished by being smothered in hot pitch as the hypocrites are wearing cloaks weighted down with led. The thieves are bitten by snakes and burned only to be reborn form the ashes. The fraudulent advisors are engulfed in fire while the scandals are wounded by demons with swords. Last but not lease the falsifiers are plagued with diseases. The last and final ring in Hell holds the traitors and Lucifer.
There are four rounds in this circle which include the traitors against family, country, guests, and lords. The first sub-level has the sinners that are stuck in ice up to their necks for not being loyal to their family while the traitors to their country are iced up to the bottom of their skulls so they cant move their heads. The third sub-circle holds those that betrayed their guests. These sinners are punished by being frozen half way up their face so that when they cry their eyes become frozen shut. Last but not least the traitors to their lord are completely encased in ice.
At the very center of Hell Lucifer is stuck in the ice as well. Satan has three faces on one head and in each mouth there are the three worst sinners. These sinners are Brutus and Cassius who betrayed Caesar and Judas who betrayed Jesus. In Dante’s Inferno every eternal sentence is appropriate and fitting to the crime committed. Dante covers the three of the main types of offenses being incontinence, violence, and fraud. Each of these offenses are punished by an equally painful punishment. For every action there is a reaction and every one gets what they deserve.