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Dante’s Inferno: The Levels of Hell Explicatory Essay


Level One

According to Dante, there are various levels in hell. The first level in Hell is called Limbo. All the individuals who die before being baptized and those who live as virtuous pagans are condemned to spend the rest of eternity at this level. The people being referred to in this level are those who die before accepting Christianity.

All the individuals who die non-Christians, including philosophers who typically do not associate themselves with any religion are going to be condemned to this level for eternity. Some of the examples that provided by Dente include famous philosophers like Socrates and Plato. This level is therefore the least severe in terms of punishment and is the farthest from Satan.

Level Two

The second level is known as lust and consists of the desperate and the despondent. All the sinners who will be found to be guilty of lust will be condemned to this level for eternity. The souls of all the individuals found guilty of this sin will be scattered and blown about without any hope of rest.1 In this level, people will be subjected to eternal unrest and hopelessness. This level is the second farthest circle from Satan and is slightly harsher than the first one, but is not as cruel as the other circles that follow.

Level Three

The third level consists of gluttons who will be forced to eat and lie down in vile places. In addition, the gluttons will also be subjected to freezing slush, which is allegedly similar to the harsh environment subjected to pigs. The character considered to be the head of this group of gluttons is Cerberus.

The conditions at this level will be like clumps of mud and other deplorable areas. The gluttony level will be harsher than the previous two levels and this means that the level of torture subjected to the culprits will also be higher. In addition, the surroundings will be characterized by dirt, filth and other bad states. The gluttons will be subjected to states similar to those that pigs experience in this world.

Level Four

The fourth level will consist of misers and spendthrifts who will be subjected to roll stones to crash them completely. Since they are used to abusing material goods, they will be subjected to stones crashing against each other. Avaricious and prodigal individuals will not be counted among the righteous, but will instead be subjected to banging rocks for eternity.

This will be a punishment for spoiling the goods in this world. One of the supernatural beings perceived as a possible leader in this category of people is Plutus, the Greek god.2 The Greek god is perceived to be the luminary of all spendthrifts and misers, and this god will lead all its followers towards this crash. This level will be more severe in terms of punishment than all the other preceding levels.

Level Five

The fifth level allegedly consists of the individuals guilty of wrath and sullenness. The wrathful are regarded as those who fight each other and they will be subjected to eternal conflict against each other. Anger and fury will be considered to be part of the fifth level and the perpetrators of these two acts will be subjected to various conflicts in opposition to each other.

The wrathful will be condemned to the river of hate known as Styx and this will bring about various sullen lies under the marshy surfaces. The sullen anger will be concealed just as their tempers were silently concealed behind their lives. They will be subjected to unending conflicts between each other and there will be no chance of peace in this level. Since the involved individuals will be subjected to various conflicting scenarios, this level is considered as more severe that the previous ones.

Level Six

The sixth level will seize all followers of heresy and those who stand for opinions and doctrines that go up against Christian beliefs. All the people who oppose the church and profess opinions that differ from those that are in line with Christian doctrines will be condemned to suffer under this level.

Examples of the heretics are Farinata and Epicurean, which are groups of people who presume the soul does not exist.3 These people believe that the core objective of humanity is engaging in pressure. The people who will fall in this category are those who will have developed different opinions and objectives that contravene Christianity. Individuals condemned to this level will have to spend their lives in burning graves for eternity. The punishment in this level will therefore be more severe than in the previous ones.

Level Seven

The other level in hell is the level that will hold all offenders of vicious crimes and perpetrators of all forms of violence. One of the forms of violence addressed in this level is that against one’s neighbors.4 This type of violence will hold for all people who wage war against people who are close to them.

The other form of violence will be that against oneself. All the people who will be found to have engaged in violent activities against themselves will be subjected to the same punishment experienced by any other violent group. In addition, those who will be found to have acted violently against God will also be subjected to similar punishments, just like any other person condemned to this level.

In this level, there will be various rings that one will be subjected, which vary based on the various category of violence. The first ring will consist of those who are violent against others while the second one will be made of individuals who perpetrate violence against themselves. The third ring will include all the persons who perpetrate violence against God. Blasphemy and denial of God’s word are considered as some of the most serious crimes under this level.5

Level Eight

The individuals who will be found to have committed fraud will be subjected to the eighth level in hell. The panderers and seducers are some of the main players who will greatly feature in this level. The sorcerers and false prophets who are guilty of the same crime will also be subjected to similar punishments as stipulated under the eighth level. Other persons such as the liars and thieves will also be condemned to suffer in this level. Diomedes and Ulysses are some of the characters who are considered as possible leaders of this level.

Level Nine

The last level and the closest to Satan is that of treachery. In this level, the individuals who will be condemned are those who betray special relationships, including all traitors to family members, those who betray their country, those who are disloyal to their guests and those who conspire against their masters. Cain, Judas, Ptolomea and Guelph, are considered as the potential leaders of all the people who will be condemned to this level. This level is therefore considered to be the most severe in terms of punishment as compared to the rest.

Bibliography

Dante’s Inferno. “.” Danteinferno.info. n.d. Web.

Eileen, Gardine. Visions of Heaven & Hell before Dante. New York: Italica Press, 1989.

Goff, Jacques. The Birth of Purgatory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.

Himmelfarb, Martha. Tours of Hell: An Apocalyptic Form in Jewish and Christian Literature. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983.

Thompson, Diane. “.” Northern Virginia Community College. Last modified 2007. Web.

Footnotes

1 Jacques Goff, The Birth of Purgatory (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), 12.

2 Gardiner Eileen, Visions of Heaven & Hell Before Dante (NewYork: Italica Press, 1989), 26.

3 Himmelfarb Martha, Tours of Hell: An Apocalyptic Form in Jewish and Christian Literature (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983), 20.

4 Diane Thompson, “World Literature I (Eng 251): Dante’s Inferno Study Guide,” Northern Virginia Community College. Last modified 2007.

5 Dante’s Inferno, “The Levels of Hell,” Danteinferno.info. n.d.

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