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First Circle (Limbo)

Dantes First Circle of Hell is resided by virtuous non-Christians and unbaptized pagans who are punished
with eternity in an inferior form of Heaven. They live in a castle with seven gates which symbolize the seven
virtues. Here, Dante sees many prominent people from classical antiquity such as Homer, Socrates, Aristotle,
Cicero, Hippocrates and Julius Caesar.
Second Circle (Lust)

In the Second Circle of Hell, Dante and his companion Virgil find people who were overcome by lust. They
are punished by being blown violently back and forth by strong winds, preventing them to find peace and
rest. Strong winds symbolize the restlessness of a person who is led by desire for fleshly pleasures. Again,
Dante sees many notable people from history and mythology including Cleopatra, Tristan, Helen of Troy and
others who were adulterous during their lifetime.
Third Circle (Gluttony)

When reaching the Third Circle of Hell, Dante and Virgil find souls of gluttons who are overlooked by a
worm-monster Cerberus. Sinners in this circle of Hell are punished by being forced to lie in a vile slush that
is produced by never ending icy rain. The vile slush symbolizes personal degradation of one who
overindulges in food, drink and other worldly pleasures, while the inability to see others lying nearby
represents the gluttons selfishness and coldness. Here, Dante speaks to a character called Ciacco who also
tells him that the Guelphs (a fraction supporting the Pope) will defeat and expel the Ghibellines (a fraction
supporting the Emperor to which Dante adhered) from Florence which happened in 1302, before the poem
was written (after 1308).
Fourth Circle (Greed)

In the Fourth Circle of Hell, Dante and Virgil see the souls of people who are punished for greed. They are
divided into two groups those who hoarded possessions and those who lavishly spent it jousting. They
use great weights as a weapon, pushing it with their chests which symbolizes their selfish drive for fortune
during lifetime. The two groups that are guarded by a character called Pluto (probably the ancient Greek
ruler of the underworld) are so occupied with their activity that the two poets dont try to speak to them.
Here, Dante says to see many clergymen including cardinals and popes.
Fifth Circle (Anger)

The Fifth Circle of Hell is where the wrathful and sullen are punished for their sins. Transported on a boat
by Phlegyas, Dante and Virgil see the wrathful fighting each other on the surface of the river Styx and the
sullen gurgling beneath the surface of the water. Again, the punishment reflects the type of the sin
committed during lifetime. While passing through, the poets are approached by Filippo Argenti, a
prominent Florentine politician who confiscated Dantes property after his expulsion from Florence.
Sixth Circle (Heresy)

When reaching the Sixth Circle of Hell, Dante and Virgil see heretics who are condemned to eternity in
flaming tombs. Here, Dante talks with a couple of Florentines Farinata degli Uberti and Cavalcante de
Cavalcanti but he also sees other notable historical figures including the ancient Greek philosopher
Epicurus, Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II and Pope Anastasius II. The latter, however, is according to
some modern scholars condemned by Dante as heretic by a mistake. Instead, as some scholars argue, the
poet probably meant the Byzantine Emperor Anastasius I.
Seventh Circle (Violence)

The Seventh Circle of Hell is divided into three rings. The Outer Ring houses murderers and others who
were violent to other people and property. Here, Dante sees Alexander the Great (disputed), Dionysius I of
Syracuse, Guy de Montfort and many other notable historical and mythological figures such as the
Centaurus, sank into a river of boiling blood and fire. In the Middle Ring, the poet sees suicides who have
been turned into trees and bushes which are fed upon by harpies. But he also sees here profligates, chased
and torn to pieces by dogs. In the Inner Ring are blasphemers and sodomites, residing in a desert of burning
sand and burning rain falling from the sky.
Eight Circle (Fraud)

The Eight Circle of Hell is resided by the fraudulent. Dante and Virgil reach it on the back of Geryon, a flying
monster with different natures, just like the fraudulent. This circle of Hell is divided into 10 Bolgias or stony
ditches with bridges between them. In Bolgia 1, Dante sees panderers and seducer. In Bolgia 2 he finds
flatterers. After crossing the bridge to Bolgia 3, he and Virgil see those who are guilty of simony. After
crossing another bridge between the ditches to Bolgia 4, they find sorcerers and false prophets. In Bolgia 5
are housed corrupt politicians, in Bolgia 6 are hypocrites and in the remaining 4 ditches, Dante finds
hypocrites (Bolgia 7), thieves (Bolgia 7), evil counselors and advisers (Bolgia 8), divisive individuals (Bolgia
9) and various falsifiers such as alchemists, perjurers and counterfeits (Bolgia 10).
Ninth Circle (Treachery)

The last Ninth Circle of Hell is divided into 4 Rounds according to the seriousness of the sin though all
residents are frozen in an icy lake. Those who committed more severe sin are deeper within the ice. Each of
the 4 Rounds is named after an individual who personifies the sin. Thus Round 1 is named Caina after Cain
who killed his brother Abel, Round 2 is named Antenora after Anthenor of Troy who was Priams counselor
during the Trojan War, Round 3 is named Ptolomaea after Ptolemy (son of Abubus), while Round 4 is named
Judecca after Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus with a kiss.
Dante Alighieri Biography

Dante was born in Florence in May 1265. His family was of an old lineage, of noble birth but no longer wealthy. His education was
undoubtedly typical of all the youth of that time and station in life.

When he was only 12 years old, his marriage to the daughter of the famous Donati family was arranged, along with the amount of
her dowry. These betrothals and marriages were family affairs, and Dante dutifully married her, some years later, at the proper time
and had two sons and one daughter.

Dante studied at the University of Bologna, one of the most famous universities in the medieval world. There, he came under the
influence of one of the most famous scholars of the time, Ser Brunetto Latini, who never taught Dante but advised and encouraged
him. Latini appears in Canto XV of the Inferno.

When Dante was still very young, 10 to 12 years old, he met a 9-year-old girl at a prominent function. She wore a bright crimson
dress, and to Dante, she radiated the celestial beauty of an angel. The girl was Beatrice, and there is no doubt that she was the
great love of Dante's life, and the greatest single influence on his work. Dante loved her at a distance, and she was, most probably,
totally unaware of Dante's devotion to her. He recorded this devotion in an early work Vita Nuova (A New Life). Her name appears
only once in the Inferno, but she plays an important role in Purgatorio and Paradiso.

Dante's public life began when he fought bravely in a battle at Campaldino in 1289. By 1295, he was completely involved in political
causes, and was elected to the City Council that year. Florence, at that time, had two political parties: the Guelphs, who supported
the pope as the ruler of the Catholic Church but believed that he should not be involved in secular affairs (that is a belief in the
American concept of the separation of church and state); and the Ghibellines, who believed the pope should rule both secular and
religious factions. As a member of the Guelph political party, Dante was sent often on missions to arrange peace between the two
warring parties. His opposition to the pope's interference to the unification of all the various city-states often brought him to be at
odds with the reigning pope.

While on a mission to Rome to arrange a truce between the two parties, trumped-up charges were made against Dante: He was
charged with graft, intrigue against the peace of the city, and hostility against the pope. He was fined heavily and ordered to report
to the Council to defend himself.

Rightly so, he was fearful for his life, and he did not appear to answer the charges. A heavier penalty was imposed. All of his
property was confiscated, he was sentenced to be burned at the stake if caught, and his two sons were banished with him. In 1302,
he was exiled from his native city, never to return.
At first he joined other political exiles, but he found them too stupid and selfish. It is not known where he spent many of his years in
exile, but he was often well received. He began his great poem, The Divine Comedy, and it attracted a large and sympathetic
audience. Commentaries flowed soon, and he became very well known. One of his hosts was the nephew to Francesca, who
appears in Canto V of the Inferno.

He died in Ravenna on September 13, 1321, and he was buried with honors due him. Several times during the intervening years,
the city of Florence has tried to get his remains returned to his native city, but not even the intercession of several popes could bring
this about. His opinion of the citizens of his city was clearly stated in the full title of his greatest work, The Comedy of Dante
Alighieri, Florentine by Citizenship, Not by Morals. Dante still lies in the monastery of the Franciscan friars in Ravenna.

Dante A thirty-five-year-old man, spiritually lost and wandering away from the True Way the path of righteousness and of God.
Dante has become weak and is in need of spiritual guidance. Luckily, a guide is sent to him and he embarks on a spiritual journey
to learn the true nature of sin.

Virgil A "shade" residing in the Limbo section of Hell, also known as the first circle. Virgil is a poet of antiquity, much admired by
Dante, and the perfect guide for Dante's journey. He is said to represent human reason and wisdom. Virgil is a strong and
competent guide but needs Divine intervention to complete the journey safely.

The number following each name refers to the canto in which the character first appears.

Achilles (12) One of the heroes of the Trojan War.

Antaeus (31) Giant slain by Hercules.

Argenti (8) Florentine, bitter enemy of Dante's.

Attila (12) Chief of the Huns. Called "the Scourge of God."

Beatrice (2). The inspiration for Dante's work. She entreats Virgil to save Dante.

Bocca (32) Traitor of Florence. On one occasion he betrayed the Guelphs and caused their defeat.

Boniface VIII, Pope (27) Dante's bitter enemy.

Brunetto Latini (15) Distinguished scholar, beloved friend, and advisor to Dante.

Brutus (34) One of the conspirators in the murder of Caesar.

Caiaphas (23) The high priest who influenced the Hebrew Council to crucify Jesus.

Capaneus (14) One of the seven against Thebes. Defied Zeus and was killed by him.

Cassius (34) One of the conspirators who killed Julius Caesar.

Calvacanti, Cavalcante dei (10) Father of the poet Guido who is Dante's friend.

Guido His son. The father inquires about him in Hell.

Celestine V, Pope (3) Resigned the papal throne, thus making way for Pope Boniface VIII.

Cerberus (6) The three headed hound: guards one of the gates of Hell.

Charon (3) The Ferryman of the river Acheron in Hell.

Ciacco (5) A notorious glutton: his name means "the hog."

Cleopatra (5) Queen of Egypt; mistress of Caesar and Mark Antony.

Dido (5) Queen of Carthage. She was Aeneas' lover.

Diomede (26) Companion of Ulysses in his last voyage.


Donati family (28) A politically powerful family who caused the split in the political parties.

Erichtho (9) Sorceress who conjured Virgil's spirit to help Dante.

Farinata (10) A prominent leader of the Ghibelline party who defeated Dante's party.

Francesca da Rimini (5) Lover of Paolo whose brother slew them in the act of adultery.

Frederick II, Emperor (10) Attempted to unite Italy and Sicily.

Geri del Bello (29) Cousin to Dante whose murder was not avenged.

Geryon (17) A monster who represents fraud.

Gianni Schicchi (3) Aided a member of the Donati family in falsifying a will.

Harpies (13) In mythology, birds with the faces of women.

Jason (28) Leader of the Argonauts in their quest for the Golden Fleece.

Judas Iscariot (34) One of the twelve disciples. He betrayed Jesus.

Mahomet (28) Founder of the Islamic religion.

Malabranche (21) Demons who punish the barrators. The name means "evil-claws."

Malacoda (21) One of the Malebranche. His name means "evil tail."

Medusa (9) One of the Gorgons. The sight of her head filled with snakes turned men to stone.

Minotaur (12) A monster with a bull's body and a man's head.

Nessus (12) One of the Centaurs, killed by Hercules.

Nicholas, III, Pope (19) Successor to Pope John XXI; accused of Simony.

Paolo da Rimini (5) Committed adultery with Francesca, his brother's wife.

Phlegyas (8) Ferryman of the river Styx in Hell.

Plutus (7) God of riches.

Potiphar's Wife (30) Falsely accused Joseph of trying to seduce her.

Ruggieri, Archbishop (10) Traitor who starved Ugolino and his sons.

Satan (34) Also called Lucifer, Dis, and Beelzebub, he is the "Emperor of Hell."

Scala, Can Grande ella (1) Dante's friend and protector in exile.

Sinon the Greek (30) Accused of treachery during Trojan War.

Thas (18) A courtesan who flattered her lover excessively.

Ugolino, Count (33) Imprisoned with his sons and starved to death.

Ulysses (26) Legendary hero of Homer's Odyssey.

Vanni Fucci (24) A thief who shocks Dante with his obscenity.

Vigne, Pier delle (13) He was unjustly imprisoned for graft and committed suicide.
Important Facts

The Father of Italian Language

Dante Alighieri was an Italian poet and philosopher best known for the epic poem The Divine Comedy. The poem is broken into
three books or sections, each representing one of the three tiers of the Christian afterlife: purgatory, heaven, and hell. This poem
is considered the greatest work of Italian literature. Dante is thought of as the father of modern Italian. The poem is labeled a
comedy because he penned it in the low Italian language, not the high Latin language as was the norm of the day. Works
penned in the language of the masses were considered comedies. Dante was the first to pen a serious poem in a native language.

The Divine Comedy is an allegory of human life presented as a visionary trip through the Christian afterlife, written as a warning to
a corrupt society to steer itself to the path of righteousness: to remove those living in this life from the state of misery, and lead
them to the state of felicity. The Roman poet Virgil guides Dante through hell and purgatory. Virgil, being condemned to purgatory
cannot guide Dante in heaven so Dantes life long love interest, Beatrice guides him through heaven.

Who the heck is Beatrice anyway?

We know of Beatrice Portinari because of Dantes obsession with her. The two met when Beatrice was nine and Dante ten. Beatrice
became an object of inspiration (obsession) for years afterward. Dante says they did not formally meet again until nine years later,
(nine will be an important number in poem) although Dante saw Beatrice around Florence but never had the nerve to speak to her.
During their second meeting Beatrice greeted Dante as she walked by. This apparently sent him over the moon as judged by the
words he wrote later:

The hope of her admirable greeting abolished in me all enmity and I was

possessed by a flame of charity, and if anyone had asked me a question I would have

said only Love! with a countenance full of humility

Beatrice died in 1290 at the age of 25. Dante never did forget her. His first work La Vita Nouva (The New Life) is a series of love
poems to an unnamed Blessed Lady. In the Divine Comedy, Beatrice is the named blessed lady who takes pity on Dante and begs
Virgil to help him. It is through Beatrice that God finally graces Dante.

Why did Dante write the poem?

The writing of The Comedy was greatly influenced by the politics of late-thirteenth-century Florence. The struggle for power in
Florence was a reflection of a crisis that affected all of Italy, and, in fact, most of Europe, from the twelfth century to the fourteenth
centurythe struggle between church and state for temporal authority. The main representative of the church was the pope, while
the main representative of the state was the Holy Roman Emperor. The last truly powerful Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick II, died
in 1250, and by Dantes time, the Guelphs were in power in Florence. By 1290, however, the Guelphs had divided into two factions:
the Whites (Dantes party), who supported the independence of Florence from strict papal control, and the Blacks, who were willing
to work with the pope in order to restore their power. Under the direction of Pope Boniface VIII, the Blacks gained control of
Florence in 1301. Dante, as a visible and influential leader of the Whites, was exiled within a year. The pope, as well as a multitude
of other characters from Florentine politics, has a place in the Hell that Dante depicts in Infernoand not a pleasant one.* From
Sparksnotes.

Quick Facts

Dantes journey into the after life lasts from the night before Good Friday to the Wednesday after Easter in the spring of 1300

There are nine levels of hell: Limbo- virtuous Pagans.. Lascivious. Gluttons. Avaricious and Spendthrifts. Wrathful. Heretics.
Violent. Fraudulent. Treacherous. Satan is found in the ninth circle, eating traitors.

Hell is not always hot. In the poem Hell has a river of boiling blood for people guilty of bloodshed, tombs of fire for heretics, and a
desert of fire for the blasphemers, usurers and homosexuals. The lustful are blown about by strong winds, while the gluttons in are
punished in sleet and muck. In the lowest circle Satan himself is waist high encased in ice.

Hell is full of real people Dante knew plus some famous Greeks, Romans and Biblical figures along with mythical creatures. Each
shade that Dante meets and questions is named as someone he knows. The early readers of Dante would have been familiar with
most, if not all of them. The difficulty for modern readers is that these people were contemporaries of Dante. It is the punishment
not the person that we need to concern ourselves with.

Hell is gated. The most famous of all Dantes quotes Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here, is found above the gate.
There are three rivers and one lake in Hell: 1. Acheron on which all souls have to cross into Hell. 2. Styx in which the wrathful souls
are submerged 3.Phlegethon the river of blood in which those violent against others are boiling. 4. Cocytus: the iced lake of the
lower level where we find Satan frozen in the middle.