Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dante's Inferno

Dante Alighieri (1265 - 1321) was an Italian poet. His epic poem, the Divine Comedy, is considered to be one of the world's greatest poems.

When Alighieri died in 1321, parts of his manuscript of the Divine Comedy were missing. For several months, his sons, Jacopo and Pietro, searched the house and all of their father's papers for the missing parts but could not find them.

One night, Jacopo had a dream wherein his father appeared dressed in white and bathed in a heavenly light. Jacopo asked his father if he had completed the poem. His father indicated he had indeed completed the work and showed Jacopo a secret place within his chamber where he had hidden it.

Jacopo went to the place his father had told him the manuscript was kept -- a small blind affixed to the wall. Lifting the blind, Jacopo found a small compartment. Inside were some papers, covered with mold. Carefully removing the dust and mold, the Divine Comedy was now complete.

Sometimes, ghosts can be very helpful.

The Divine Comedy begins in a dark forest, which leads into the Inferno (hell), followed by heaven and purgatory.

Dante's Inferno has nine circles.

1) Limbo -- for those who were not baptized or do not believe in Christianity -- clear skies, green fields, pleasant villas.

2) Lust -- for those inclined to exercise excessive lust, leading to commit sexual sins such as adultery -- punishment includes being blown around by strong winds with great force.

3) Gluttony -- for those who indulged in excessive abuse of food and other substances -- punishment involves being tossed into foul-smelling slush while being beaten by storms and icy rain -- a nasty, 3-headed creature named Cerberus guards this realm.

4) Avarice -- for those who waste and hoard -- excessive spenders and misers -- punishment is eternal pushing of large bags of wealth -- this realm is guarded by Plutus, the Greek god of wealth.

5) Anger & Moodiness -- for those filled with wrath and find no joy in anything -- a stinking swamp in a thick fog where the wrathful float and fight with each other, while the joyless lay beneath the surface.

6) Heresy -- for those who have committed the most malicious sins -- the beginning of lower hell, called the City of Dis, where the air is hot and dry -- punishment involves being captive in a large white marble mausoleum or within hot iron tombs.

7) Violence -- this realm has three rings associated with three types of violence -- the outer ring is for those who have committed violence against people or property, where they are immersed in a river of blood -- the middle ring is for those you have committed violence (or suicide) against themselves, where they will be entangled in thorny bushes which are being eaten by shrews -- the inner ring is for those who have committed violence against God or nature (blasphemers, usurers, sodomites) where they are eternally confined to a hot desert where fiery rain pours from the sky.

8) Fraud -- for those who have committed treachery or fraud -- panderers, flatterers, false prophets, corrupt politicians, thieves, hypocrites, creators of discord, evil counselors -- this realm is guarded by Greyon, a creature that personifies fraud, with an honest face and the body of a serpent with a tail containing a poisonous sting.

9) Treachery -- for the biggest sinners of all -- the traitors -- unbearably cold with four concentric zones, where each zone is for different kinds of traitors -- traitors to kindred -- traitors to hosts or guests -- traitors to country -- traitors to benefactors.

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” Dante Alighieri

Yes, indeed -- Dante Alighieri was a fun guy -- his vision of the nature of humanity and sin probably qualified for him for spending eternity in one of his nine circles of hell -- or perhaps he was just having a bad hair day when he wrote it.

To light a candle is to cast a shadow.

Quote for the Day -- "If you're going through hell, keep going." Winston Churchill

Bret Burquest is the author of 11 books. He lives in the Ozark Mountains with a few dogs and where hell is a state of mind.

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