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At the beginning of the story, a woman, Beatrice, calls for an angel to bring Virgil to guide and aid Dante in his journey so that no harm will befall him. After making their way through all nine circles of Hell, Dante and Virgil reach the center of Hell. Here they meet Satan, who is described as a three-headed beast. Each mouth is busy eating a specific person — the left mouth is eating Brutus, the right is eating Cassius, and the center mouth is eating Judas Iscariot.

Brutus and Cassius are those who betrayed and caused the murder of Julius Caesar. Judas did the same to Jesus Christ. Share Flipboard Email. Adam Burgess, Ph.

Cantos V–VI

Limbo: Where those who never knew Christ exist. Lust: Self-explanatory. Dante encounters ordinary people i. Boccaccio takes one of these characters, Ciacco, and later incorporates him into The Decameron 14 th C. Greed: Self-explanatory.


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Dante encounters more ordinary people, but also the guardian of the circle, Pluto. There are three of them, the Outer, Middle, and Inner rings, and each ring houses different types of violent criminals. The first are those who were violent against people and property, such as Attila the Hun. They were alone, reading it aloud, and so many parts of the book seemed to tell of their own love. They kissed, and the book was forgotten. During her story, the other spirit weeps bitterly, and Dante is so moved by pity that he also weeps — and faints. This second circle is the true beginning of Hell and is also where the true punishments of Hell begin, and Minos, the mythological king of Crete, sits in judgment of the damned souls.

Circle II is the circle of carnal lust. The sinners are tossed and whirled by the winds, as in life they felt themselves — helpless in the tempests of passion. This canto also begins descriptions of the circles devoted to the sins of incontinence: the sins of the appetite, the sins of self-indulgence, and the sins of passion.

The Divine Comedy: Inferno

Minos, like the other guardians of Hell, does not want to admit Dante, a living being still capable of redemption, but Virgil forces him to do so. Some of these women, besides being adulteresses, have also committed suicide. Therefore, the question immediately arises as to why they are not deeper down in Hell in the circle reserved for suicides. Remember that in Dante's Hell, a person is judged by his own standards, that is, by the standards of the society in which he lived.

For example, in classical times, suicide wasn't considered a sin, but adultery was. Therefore, the spirit is judged by the ethics by which he or she lived and is condemned for adultery, not suicide. Dante sees Paolo and Francesca and calls them to him in the name of love — a mild conjuration at Virgil's insistence. Francesca tells their story; Paolo can only weep. Francesca da Rimini was the wife of Gianciotto, the deformed older brother of Paolo, who was a beautiful youth.

Inferno 11 – Digital Dante

Theirs was a marriage of alliance, and it continued for some ten years before Paolo and Francesca were caught in the compromising situation described in the poem. Gianciotto promptly murdered them both, for which he is confined in the lowest circle of Hell. For modern readers, understanding why Dante considered adultery, or lustfulness, to be the least hateful of the sins of incontinence is sometimes difficult. As the intellectual basis of Hell, Dante thought of Hell as a place where the sinner deliberately chose his or her sin and failed to repent. This is particularly true of the lower circles, which include malice and fraud.

In the example of Francesca and Paolo, however, Francesca did not deliberately choose adultery; hers was a gentle lapsing into love for Paolo, a matter of incontinence, and a weakness of will. Only the fact that her husband killed her in the moment of adultery allowed her no opportunity to repent, and for this reason, she is condemned to Hell.

Francesca is passionate, certainly capable of sin, and certainly guilty of sin, but she represents the woman whose only concern is for the man she loves, not her immortal soul.

She found her only happiness, and now her misery, in Paolo's love. Her love was her heaven; it is now her hell. In Hell, sinners retain all those qualities for which they were damned, and they remain the same throughout eternity; that is, the soul is depicted in Hell with the exact characteristics that condemned it to Hell in the first place.

Second Circle (Lust)

Consequently, as Francesca loved Paolo in the human world, throughout eternity she will love him in Hell. But, the lovers are damned because they will not change, and because they will never cease to love, they can never be redeemed. Dante represents this fact metaphorically by placing Paolo close to Francesca and by having the two of them being buffeted about together through this circle of Hell for eternity. By reading the story of Francesca, one can perhaps understand better the intellectual basis by which Dante depicts the other sins in Hell. He chooses a character that represents a sin; he then expresses poetically the person who committed the sin.


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Francesca is not perhaps truly representative of the sin of this circle, and "carnal lust" seems a harsh term for her feelings, but Dante chose her story to make his point: The sin in Circle II is a sin of incontinence, weakness of will, and falling from grace through inaction of conscience. Many times in Hell, Dante responds sympathetically or with pity to some of these lost souls. This canto clearly illustrates the difference in the two Personae: Dante the Pilgrim and Dante the Poet. Dante the Pilgrim weeps and suffers with those who are suffering their punishments.

Dante's Inferno The Second Circle: Lust

He reacts to Francesca's love for Paolo, her horrible betrayal, and her punishment so strongly that he faints. Yet it is Dante the Poet who put her in Hell. Minos Greek Mythology.