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- Dante's Inferno Audiobook (free download)
- Dantes' Inferno
- The Divine Comedy
It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso. In the poem, Hell is depicted as nine concentric circles of torment located within the Earth; it is the "realm The poet finds himself lost in a dark wood selva oscura  , astray from the "straight way" diritta via ,  also translatable as "right way" of salvation.
He sets out to climb directly up a small mountain, but his way is blocked by three beasts he cannot evade: a lonza  usually rendered as " leopard " or " leopon " ,  a leone  lion , and a lupa  she-wolf.
The three beasts, taken from the Jeremiah , are thought to symbolize the three kinds of sin that bring the unrepentant soul into one of the three major divisions of Hell.
According to John Ciardi , these are incontinence the she-wolf ; violence and bestiality the lion ; and fraud and malice the leopard ;  Dorothy L. The beasts drive him back despairing into the darkness of error, a "lower place" basso loco  where the sun is silent l sol tace . However, Dante is rescued by a figure who announces that he was born sub Iulio  i. Beatrice had been moved to aid Dante by the Virgin Mary symbolic of compassion and Saint Lucia symbolic of illuminating Grace.
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Rachel , symbolic of the contemplative life, also appears in the heavenly scene recounted by Virgil. The two of them then begin their journey to the underworld.
Dante passes through the gate of Hell, which bears an inscription ending with the famous phrase " Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate ",  most frequently translated as "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
These are the souls of people who in life took no sides; the opportunists who were for neither good nor evil, but instead were merely concerned with themselves.
Among these Dante recognizes a figure implied to be Pope Celestine V , whose "cowardice in selfish terror for his own welfare served as the door through which so much evil entered the Church". These souls are forever unclassified; they are neither in Hell nor out of it, but reside on the shores of the Acheron. Naked and futile, they race around through the mist in eternal pursuit of an elusive, wavering banner symbolic of their pursuit of ever-shifting self-interest while relentlessly chased by swarms of wasps and hornets , who continually sting them.
This symbolizes the sting of their guilty conscience and the repugnance of sin.
After passing through the vestibule, Dante and Virgil reach the ferry that will take them across the river Acheron and to Hell proper. The ferry is piloted by Charon , who does not want to let Dante enter, for he is a living being. The wailing and blasphemy of the damned souls entering Charon's boat contrast with the joyful singing of the blessed souls arriving by ferry in the Purgatorio.
The passage across the Acheron, however, is undescribed, since Dante faints and does not awaken until he is on the other side.
The circles are concentric , representing a gradual increase in wickedness , and culminating at the centre of the earth, where Satan is held in bondage. The sinners of each circle are punished for eternity in a fashion fitting their crimes: each punishment is a contrapasso , a symbolic instance of poetic justice.
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For example, later in the poem, Dante and Virgil encounter fortune-tellers who must walk forward with their heads on backward, unable to see what is ahead, because they tried to see the future through forbidden means.
Such a contrapasso "functions not merely as a form of divine revenge , but rather as the fulfilment of a destiny freely chosen by each soul during his or her life". Those in Hell are people who tried to justify their sins and are unrepentant.
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Dante's Hell is structurally based on the ideas of Aristotle , but with "certain Christian symbolisms, exceptions, and misconstructions of Aristotle's text". Sayers writes, "abuse of the specifically human faculty of reason".
Lower Hell is further subdivided: Circle 7 Violence is divided into three rings, Circle 8 Fraud is divided into ten bolge , and Circle 9 Treachery is divided into four regions. Thus, Hell contains, in total, 24 divisions. Dante wakes up to find that he has crossed the Acheron, and Virgil leads him to the first circle of the abyss, Limbo , where Virgil himself resides.
The first circle contains the unbaptized and the virtuous pagans , who, although not sinful enough to warrant damnation, did not accept Christ.
Dorothy L. Sayers writes, "After those who refused choice come those without opportunity of choice. They could not, that is, choose Christ; they could, and did, choose human virtue, and for that they have their reward.
Without baptism "the portal of the faith that you embrace"  they lacked the hope for something greater than rational minds can conceive. When Dante asked if anyone has ever left Limbo, Virgil states that he saw Jesus "a Mighty One" descend into Limbo and take Adam , Abel , Noah , Moses , Abraham , David , and Rachel see Limbo of the Patriarchs into his all-forgiving arms and transport them to Heaven as the first human souls to be saved.
The event, known as the Harrowing of Hell , would have occurred in AD 33 or Dante encounters the poets Homer , Horace , Ovid , and Lucan , who include him in their number and make him "sixth in that high company".
After passing through the seven gates, the group comes to an exquisite green meadow and Dante encounters the inhabitants of the Citadel. Dante also views Saladin , a Muslim military leader known for his struggle against the Crusaders as well as his generous, chivalrous, and merciful conduct. Dante sees the Alexandrian geometer Euclid and Ptolemy , the Alexandrian astronomer and geographer, as well as the physicians Hippocrates and Galen.
He also encounters Avicenna , a Persian polymath, and Averroes , a medieval Andalusian polymath known for his commentaries on Aristotle's works. Dante and Virgil depart from the four other poets and continue their journey.
Although Dante implies that all virtuous non-Christians find themselves here, he later encounters two Cato of Utica and Statius in Purgatory and two Trajan and Ripheus in Heaven.
In Purg. Canto V Dante and Virgil leave Limbo and enter the Second Circle — the first of the circles of Incontinence — where the punishments of Hell proper begin.
It is described as "a part where no thing gleams". Minos sentences each soul to its torment by wrapping his tail around himself a corresponding number of times. Virgil rebukes Minos, and he and Dante continue on.
In the second circle of Hell are those overcome by lust. These "carnal malefactors"  are condemned for allowing their appetites to sway their reason. These souls are buffeted back and forth by the terrible winds of a violent storm, without rest. This symbolizes the power of lust to blow needlessly and aimlessly: "as the lovers drifted into self-indulgence and were carried away by their passions, so now they drift for ever.
The bright, voluptuous sin is now seen as it is — a howling darkness of helpless discomfort. In this circle, Dante sees Semiramis , Dido , Cleopatra , Helen of Troy , Paris , Achilles , Tristan , and many others who were overcome by sexual love during their life.
Dante comes across Francesca da Rimini , who married the deformed Giovanni Malatesta also known as "Gianciotto" for political purposes but fell in love with his younger brother Paolo Malatesta ; the two began to carry on an adulterous affair. Sometime between and , Giovanni surprised them together in Francesca's bedroom and violently stabbed them both to death. Francesca explains:. Love led us to one death. Francesca further reports that she and Paolo yielded to their love when reading the story of the adultery between Lancelot and Guinevere in the Old French romance Lancelot du Lac.
Francesca says, " Galeotto fu 'l libro e chi lo scrisse ". John Ciardi renders line as "That book, and he who wrote it, was a pander. But to that second circle of sad hell, Where 'mid the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell Their sorrows.
Pale were the sweet lips I saw, Pale were the lips I kiss'd, and fair the form I floated with, about that melancholy storm.
Canto VI In the third circle, the gluttonous wallow in a vile, putrid slush produced by a ceaseless, foul, icy rain — "a great storm of putrefaction"  — as punishment for subjecting their reason to a voracious appetite.
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Cerberus described as " il gran vermo ", literally "the great worm", line 22 , the monstrous three-headed beast of Hell, ravenously guards the gluttons lying in the freezing mire, mauling and flaying them with his claws as they howl like dogs. Virgil obtains safe passage past the monster by filling its three mouths with mud.
Sayers writes that "the surrender to sin which began with mutual indulgence leads by an imperceptible degradation to solitary self-indulgence".
In this circle, Dante converses with a Florentine contemporary identified as Ciacco , which means "hog". These events occurred in , prior to when the poem was written but in the future at Easter time of , the time in which the poem is set. Although the two are often conflated, he is a distinct figure from Pluto Dis , the classical ruler of the underworld. Those whose attitude toward material goods deviated from the appropriate mean are punished in the fourth circle.
They include the avaricious or miserly including many "clergymen, and popes and cardinals" ,  who hoarded possessions, and the prodigal , who squandered them. The hoarders and spendthrifts joust , using as weapons great weights that they push with their chests:.
Relating this sin of incontinence to the two that preceded it lust and gluttony , Dorothy L. Sayers writes, "Mutual indulgence has already declined into selfish appetite; now, that appetite becomes aware of the incompatible and equally selfish appetites of other people. Indifference becomes mutual antagonism, imaged here by the antagonism between hoarding and squandering. In the swampy, stinking waters of the river Styx — the Fifth Circle — the actively wrathful fight each other viciously on the surface of the slime, while the sullen the passively wrathful lie beneath the water, withdrawn, "into a black sulkiness which can find no joy in God or man or the universe".
Sayers writes, "the active hatreds rend and snarl at one another; at the bottom, the sullen hatreds lie gurgling, unable even to express themselves for the rage that chokes them". Little is known about Argenti, although Giovanni Boccaccio describes an incident in which he lost his temper; early commentators state that Argenti's brother seized some of Dante's property after his exile from Florence.
The Divine Comedy
When Dante responds "In weeping and in grieving, accursed spirit, may you long remain,"  Virgil blesses him with words used to describe Christ himself Luke Literally, this reflects the fact that souls in Hell are eternally fixed in the state they have chosen, but allegorically, it reflects Dante's beginning awareness of his own sin. In the distance, Dante perceives high towers that resemble fiery red mosques. Virgil informs him that they are approaching the City of Dis.
Dis, itself surrounded by the Stygian marsh, contains Lower Hell within its walls. The walls of Dis are guarded by fallen angels. Virgil is unable to convince them to let Dante and him enter. An angel sent from Heaven secures entry for the poets, opening the gate by touching it with a wand, and rebukes those who opposed Dante. Allegorically, this reveals the fact that the poem is beginning to deal with sins that philosophy and humanism cannot fully understand.
Virgil also mentions to Dante how Erichtho sent him down to the lowest circle of Hell to bring back a spirit from there. Canto X In the sixth circle, heretics , such as Epicurus and his followers who say "the soul dies with the body"  are trapped in flaming tombs.
Dante holds discourse with a pair of Epicurian Florentines in one of the tombs: Farinata degli Uberti , a famous Ghibelline leader following the Battle of Montaperti in September , Farinata strongly protested the proposed destruction of Florence at the meeting of the victorious Ghibellines; he died in and was posthumously condemned for heresy in ; and Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti , a Guelph who was the father of Dante's friend and fellow poet, Guido Cavalcanti. The political affiliation of these two men allows for a further discussion of Florentine politics.
In response to a question from Dante about the "prophecy" he has received, Farinata explains that what the souls in Hell know of life on earth comes from seeing the future, not from any observation of the present. Consequently, when "the portal of the future has been shut",  it will no longer be possible for them to know anything.
Farinata explains that also crammed within the tomb are Emperor Frederick II , commonly reputed to be an Epicurean, and Ottaviano degli Ubaldini , to whom Dante refers to as il Cardinale.
In his explanation, Virgil refers to the Nicomachean Ethics and the Physics of Aristotle , with medieval interpretations. Virgil asserts that there are only two legitimate sources of wealth: natural resources "Nature" and human labor and activity "Art".