When someone commits a sin on earth, they are punished for it in the afterlife. The amount of suffering one must take is based on the gravity of the sin. The sin and the punishment must balance out. God created hell out of the concern for justice. According to Dante’s Inferno we either have eternal punishment, which is Hell, or a lesser punishment called Purgatory. The poet Dante has lost his way on the "true path" and has to pass through these places in order to free himself of the temptations to sin and reach God’s city, Heaven. A great Roman poet, Virgil, offers to serve as Dante’s guide.
When Dante enters the gates of Hell he hears cries of torment. Virgil tells him that these are the cries of the people who were never dedicated to good or evil. They never really made moral choices. Heaven or Hell will not except them. Instead they are in the Ante-Inferno where they must chase a blank banner, and are attacked by flies and wasps, and worms consume their blood and tears. The neutral angels, the ones that did not side with God or Satan in the war in Heaven, join them here. There is a balance between the sin and the punishment. People who did not commit to good or evil are now being denied exceptance. If they did not chose one over the other then good and evil will not chose them. Since the souls could not act one way or the other on earth the flies and wasps sting them into action. Chasing the blank banner symbolizes their meaninglessness of activity on earth.
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In the first cirle of Hell, Limbo, there are souls who were born before the start of christianity or were never babtised. These souls are here because they could not properly honor God and there punishment is to learn of the God they were so ignorant to while on Earth.This punishment does seem balanced but it shows no sympathy.
The second circle of Hell has constant rain and winds that tear through the air. The souls that reside here are the lustful. The ones that commited sins of the flesh. Their souls are helplessly swirled about in the wind. They were damned by love.They were stimulated by flesh on Earth and now the wind is continually stimulating their nerves. They also lie in the dark where most of the acts of lust were taken place. Finally because they could not restrain from the internal tempests of their emotions then the external tempests, the wind, coerce their souls.
In the third circle of Hell the Gluttonous must lie on the ground as the sewage rains on them. They had an obsession of bodily pleasure. They excessively pleasured themselves so now they must lie in an overabundace of waste, the product of their greedy consumption.
A ditch was formed around the fourth circle of Hell creating a ring. Within this ring there are two groups of souls that push weights in anger and pain. Each group will complete a semicirle until they run into the other group then they turn around and proceed in the opposite direction. These souls are the Prodigal and Avaricious, the ones that were greedy for money. The two group of souls are different so that is why they go in opposite directions but they were both imprudent with money and material goods hence the reason why they are both in the ring of the fourth circle.
The Heretics belong in the sixth circle, which is located in the lower Hell. Heretics have unconventional beliefs.There are tombs here that glow with fiercely hot flames. The souls are tortured with psychological suffering. Heretics can only see distant things. They can predict the future but are ignorant of current events. The heretics believed in the overall beliefs of Heaven and Hell, so they are allowed to know the future but they did not believe in the whole christian belief, therefore they are not allowed to know what is currently happening.
The seventh circle of Hell belongs to the violent which is divided into three smaller circles.
One is for the souls who were violent to their neighbors, the second is for the ones that were violent to themselves and finally the third is for the ones that brought violence towards God.
Here there is an awful stench. The ones who brought violence to their neighbors are boiled in a river of blood. Centaurs stand on the bank with bows and arrows and shoot at the souls who try to raise themselves out of the river to a height too pleasant for the gravity of their sin. The souls that were most violent lie deeper in the river. The blood that the souls are boiled in represents how much they lusted for it on Earth. For example the ones that only killed one man have only their legs in the boiling blood but the ones who have killed many stand with their heads covered
with the blood. The second ring of the seventh cirle have the souls that brought violence to themselves. The souls are transformed into trees and Harpies wound the tree branches to cause the same pain as dismemberment, the same pain they put on themselves.When the time comes for all the souls to retrieve their bodies, these souls will not fully reunite with them because they left their bodies willingly. Instead their bodies will be hung on their branches so the souls can forever see and feel the body that they rejected in life. Their punishment is getting their wish of escaping their body but not after they realize the error in it. The third ring,which is reserved for the ones that were violent against God, includes three zones. The rain of fire is in all three. The first zone is for the Blasphemers who disrespected God. They lie on a bank of sand and the falling flakes of fire keep the sand hot and ensures that the souls are burned at the top and bottom. The second zone is for the Somodites, the ones who brought harm to nature. These souls must walk continually under the rain of fire. The final zone is for the ones that were violent against art. They must sit underneath the rain of fire with purses around their necks that hold the respected family emblems. Within these three zones all who sin against God merits full punishment.
The eighth circle of Hell is known as malebolge, which means evil pouches. The circle has a wall running along the outside and has a circular pit at its center; ten evenly spaced ridges run between the wall and the pit. These ridges create ten separate pits, or pouches, in which the sinners of the various forms of fraud receive their punishments. The first pouch has the souls running from one side to the other. When the souls are in reach, Demons will use whips to scourge them making them go back to the other side. This pouch is for the panders and seducers.
The panders and seducers in life moved women from one buyer to the next. So now they run from one demon whip to another. In the second pouch the flatterers are thrown in a ditch filled with human excrement. Flatterers are "full of it" and now lie in a ditch that is full of excrement.
The third pouch punishes the simoniacs. Their heads are stuck in pits with only their feet showing. Flames burn at their feet while their souls squirm in the pits. They could not restrain from the temptation of earthly wealth, such as gold and silver, so now they are buried in the earth headfirst. The fourth pouch is for the ones who used unholy powers to look ahead in life, such as magicians. Now they trudge slowly along with their necks twisted so that their tears of pain will fall on their buttocks. Since these souls wanted to see the future by using unholy powers they are now condemned to look backwards for all time. The fifth pouch contains the barterers, the ones that accept bribes. There is a great pit filled with boiling tar. When the souls try to get a breath of air from the pit the Malabranche, meaning "evil claws," thrust the souls back down with their prongs. The hypocrites belong to the sixth pouch. They are clothed in hats, capes, and cowls.
Lead lines their garments making them very heavy. Caiphus called for Christ’s crucifixion, proving him to be a hypocrite because he preached prudence but did not show it. Now he himself lies crucified and because his actions contributed to the suffering of one for the sins of many, he now wears the weight of all of the other lead wearing Hypocrites. In the seventh pouch there are naked theives who are chased by serpents and coiled snakes bind their hands and feet.Some are bitten and their souls burned and their souls rise from the ashes and return to the serpents.Some souls can become on with the serpent if the serpent wraps around tight enough. Sometimes they even reverse forms. The theives were like snakes to us on Earth so they are now being tortured by their own snakes. The eighth pouch has numerous flames flickering in a deep dark valley. Each flame contains a soul. The people here who committed fraud to help their homeland are now retained in a flame because they still retain their love for their homeland after death. The ninth pouch are for the sowers of scandal and schism and for their sins of division they themselves are split apart.Souls cirlce continuously while a Devil stand at on end of the circle with a sword splitting the sinners as they walk by. As they follow the cirlce around their wounds close up so they are whole by the time they get back around to the sword. The tenth pouch is for the falsifiers and is divided into four zones. The first zone holds the falsifiers of metal. Souls are huddled into heaps and layed out on the ground, they are covered with scabs and scratch at them incessantly.
The second zone is the falsifiers of others’ persons. Here the souls tear at each other with their teeth. The third zone contains the falsifiers of coins. These souls often mingle with the souls of the second zone. The fourth zone is for the falsifiers of words or lies. The ninth circle of hell belongs to the traitors. Here they spend eternity in a lake frozen to their heads. The first ring of the ninth circle is called Caina where traitors to their kin receive their punishment. An example is two frozen twins butting their heads against each other in rage.They are bound to fight one another as they did on earth. The second ring Antenora contains the souls that betrayed their homeland or party. The third ring is called Ptolomea which houses those who betray their guests.The souls here lie on their backs in the frozen lake with only their faces poking out of the ice. They are like the welcomers. Something they should have been to their guests. The fourth ring, called Judecca, hold the traitors of their benefactors. The sinners are completely covered in ice and some in contorted positions. Also in the fourth ring Lucifer holds the three greatest sinners in human history in his mouths, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Christ, and Brutus and Cassius, who murdered Julius Caesar in the Roman Senate. The mouths chew the traitors to peices but never kills them.
The further Dante got in Hell the more severe the punishments were. This is an example of the perfection of God’s justice. The worse you sin the worse your punishment will be. The punishment is more of a scientific formula where you have to calculate how bad the sin is to determine the punishment.
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