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A Few Words on Dante's Inferno

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A Few Words on Dante's Inferno

Like in the Inferno, where the gates of Hell begin the journey to the bottom, so life is began by birth, and the journey to Eternity begins. Some lives are more easily lead than others, like some of the punishments in Dante's version of Hell are worse than others. Although in Hell, there is no hope, not even the hope of hope, the journey that Dante and Virgil take can be compared with the journey of life. Just the fact that Dante has someone to guide him can be comparison, everyone in life has a Guardian Angel assigned to them, as Dante had his own guide in his journey. But to compare all parts of life to the Inferno, one must start at the beginning to realized the end. The birth of body, and the death of the soul.

Midway on his journey through life, Dante realizes he has taken the wrong path. He is lucky. Many of those on the wrong path in their own lives have started on that same path on which they will also end; Dante realizes his error and, in attempting to set himself back on the right path, he goes on an important journey. Like those who also stray from their "right" path, this poet must embark on a fantastic and terrifying journey of exploration and self discovery.

In the Inferno, the circle of Hell is determined by the sins the person (soul) committed while still alive on earth. For their deeds, they suffer eternally according to Divine Justice. The people one sees in life can already have chosen their eternal fate. Their outward actions may determine which part of Hell they are sent to, if indeed they are fated to go there and if Hell is the way Dante puts it.

In the first Canto, Dante realizes he is lost. He says that he does not remember how he lost his way, but he has wandered into a fearful place, a dark and tangled valley. Above, he sees a great hill that seems to offer protection from the shadowed vale. The sun shines down from this hilltop, and Dante attempts to climb toward the light. As he climbs, however, he encounters three angry beasts: a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf--which force him to turn back. Returning in despair to the dark valley, Dante sees a human form in the woods, which soon reveals itself to be the soul of the great Roman poet Virgil.

Often, when someone loses the way in life, they don't realize that they are lost until they take a big look around to see where they are. Like in Dante's story, it is not always possible to turn around and go back the way one came, one must continue the journey and take the right path after they have done what they needed to do, and seen what they have needed to see. Some are fortunate, as Dante, to have a guide to tell them the right from the wrong.

Dante recounts that as he and Virgil approach the mouth of Hell, his mind turns to the journey ahead and again he feels terror. He only knows of two men who have ever crossed into the afterlife and returned: the Apostle Paul, who visited the Third Circle of Heaven, and Aeneas, who travels through Hell in Virgil's Aeneid. Dante considers himself less worthy than these two and fears that he may not survive his passage through Hell.

Virgil scolds Dante for his cowardice and then reassures him with the story of how he knew to find Dante and act as his guide. According to Virgil, a woman (Beatrice) in Heaven took pity upon Dante when he was lost and came down to Hell (where Virgil lives) to ask Virgil to help him.

The journey of retribution is always more difficult than the cause; and



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