Updated: Aug 1, 2019
I’ve written this piece way back in 2012 when I first entered the world of online freelance writing. In the hope of making it more appealing, I made some necessary adjustments here and there. This might be a good read in further promoting literacy to both young and old alike.
Dante Alighieri’s ‘Inferno’ (the first in a series of three books called ‘Divine Comedy’) goes beyond the simple farce and elevates the gravity of human consciousness towards the idea of a ‘cold’ Hell where the ever scandalous Ninth Circle spotlights such historical traitors as Judas, Brutus, and Cassius frozen in a lake of ice instigated by none other than Satan’s endless flapping of wings which he thinks might be a source of escape but ironically traps him at the depths of Hell. ‘Divine Comedy’ is a book of three parts written in poetic fashion wherein Alighieri went through an excursion in Hell, a climb up Mount Purgatory (with no less than renowned Roman poet Virgil as tour guide in both getaways), and a trip to Paradise (with Beatrice symbolizing divinity), casting himself as the main character and putting him in a position where no man has been to and lived to tell of the strenuous trek. Dante may have found his voyage through Inferno (Italian for Hell), Purgatorio (Italian for Purgatory), and Paradiso (Italian for Paradise or Heaven) a comedic journey through the puzzling and torturous realms of human chasm but the book is seriously allegorical in the sense that “many of its lines have double meanings, making it clever, but at times difficult to understand (Bergman, 2013).”
The Ninth Circle of Inferno is portrayed as the lowest level of Hell where Dante and Virgil witnessed devious people lie frozen and stranded in thick ice. ‘There, they find Satan, a three-headed monster forever frozen in ice (Bergman, 2013).’ In Dante’s poem, meeting Satan was not as scary as his physical features would suggest (extremely tall, three faces, six wings). He did not seem to have any of the alluring power to betray anybody that he is notorious of. He was just portrayed as a dim-witted creature that is forever trapped in the deepest abyss of Hell because he could not connect the logic between fluttering his wings and the freezing water. Dante may have taken away Satan’s modern superior mental capacity in order for him to appear more pathetic, ignorant of the paradox that his only means of escape (his wings) is the one permanently ensnaring him (in ice) for whenever he beats those mighty wings, the water freezes. However, once he stops his wings, the frozen water melts but freezes again when he attempts to escape. This is how screwed up the situation of Satan is in the Ninth Circle of Inferno.
On the one hand, Judas Iscariot may have repented for his sin of betraying Jesus Christ showing his guilt by hanging himself to death. On the other hand, Judas Iscariot is so guilty of treason that ‘Dante places’ him ‘in the lowest circle of the damned: the sole sharer, except for Satan himself, of the worst tortures of hell (Maxey, 2012).’ He may not actually be the sole sharer of tortures in Hell but he is definitely in the bottommost recesses of Inferno. He was selected by Dante to suffer the same fate as the monster Satan in the Ninth Circle wherein traitors proliferate. Betrayals may have really enraged Dante but really, a lot of trickeries actually led to the murder of friendships ‘when the bond that was once there is strangled beyond resuscitation. Some betrayals, like what Judas did with a kiss, led to the death of the betrayed one (Kern, 2004).’
Brutus and Cassius in the pits of Hell accorded the same horror and dishonour as Satan (Lucifer) and Judas? This might involve a few bouts of arguments on the part of Brutus and Cassius supporters who dare say that they also fought chivalrously to defend people during their heyday but disloyalty, in Dante’s stream of thought, cannot be seen as anything else but pure abomination and must be given its due penalty, especially when these two big names in history got involved in the assassination plot of their very own leader, Julius Caesar. Hence, they surely deserve their places in the jaws of Satan at the Ninth Circle of Inferno.
The Ninth Circle of Dante’s Inferno serves a plateful of historical traitors who have committed treachery in more ways than one. The usual image of Hell as a heated place of red-hot fire was overturned in Dante’s Ninth Circle as it features a hell of ice implying the coldness of deceit. Thus, Satan deserves his pitiful incarceration in the Ninth Circle. Good thing, his cold stomach might never go hungry because he has Judas, Brutus, and Cassius to chew on forever.
Bergman, Y. (2013). Book Review of Dante’s Inferno. Retrieved from http://suite101.com/article/book-review-of-dantes-inferno-a128561
Maxey, A. (2012). Judas Iscariot. Retrieved from http://www.gracecentered.com/judas_iscariot.htm
Kern, B. (2004). Dante, Betrayal, and Forgiveness. Retrieved from http://www.faithwriters.com/writing-challenge-article-previous.php?id=616