Revisiting Dante’s Inferno..

It’s been years since I last thought of the Dante Alighieri’s work, “Inferno” (or Dante’s Inferno) that is until my husband got so interested in this divine comedy after finding a trial version of the EA game of the same title. And so as he began searching for the game in nearly every game shop near where we live (took him almost a month to find a copy) I started re-reading Dante’s poem.

The poem was originally titled by Dante as simply “Commedia” or comedy referring to the medieval sense of the word as a story with happy ending as opposed to what we now know as a funny story. As characteristic of medieval work the poem is filled with symbolism.  The theme of contrapasso, a sort of poetic justice, is prevalent in the entire poem  where sinners are punished based on their sins while they are alive.  For example, the first circle of hell was called the Limbo where the unbaptized and virtuous pagans dwell in a deficient form of heaven; they know no joy or sorrow but instead stare in the beyond…unfeeling.

As Dante and Virgil descend through the bowels of hell, Dante is slowly confronted with the realization that he had made the wrong choices in his life. Dante was crusader, he killed and tortured people he believed to be heathens because his church sanctioned the deed. he believed himself righteous, justified and absolved – only to realize in the end that no man can forgive sin except for God Himself.  He realized that the priests lied when they said the murders he had done in the name of the church were already forgiven. In the end, a taking human life whether christian or pagan is still considered murder in the eyes of God.

 

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