• An epic poem written by
• It is widely considered the
preeminent work of Italian
literature, and is seen as one of the
greatest works of world literature.
• The poem is written in the first
person, and tells of Dante's journey
through the three realms of the dead.
The Roman poet Virgil guides him
through Hell and Purgatory.
• Beatrice, Dante's ideal woman,
guides him through Heaven.
• The poem's imaginative and
allegorical vision of the afterlife is a
culmination of the medieval worldview as it had developed in the
• It is divided into three parts:
Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.
–Dante acts as both the narrator and
the main character of The Divine
– Dante writes the epic poems as if he
has just returned from his divine
–Beatrice sends Virgil to Earth to
retrieve Dante and act as his guide
through Hell and Purgatory. Since
the poet Virgil lived before
Christianity, he dwells in Limbo
(Ante-Inferno) with other
– Although the real Beatrice died at a
young age and there is no evidence
that her relationship with Dante ever
grew beyond passing conversation,
Beatrice remained the object of
Dante's affection and desire
throughout his life. Beatrice serves as
Dante's muse and inspiration.
– In The Divine Comedy it is Beatrice
who, out of love for the poet, initiates
Dante's journey because she believes that he
has strayed from a righteous path and she
thinks that this divine journey will save him
from himself. Thus, she leaves her seat in
Heaven to descend to Hell where she asks
Virgil to serve as Dante's guide.
• represent three types of sin: the selfindulgent, the violent, and the
malicious. These three types of sin
also provide the three main divisions
of Dante's Hell:
– The first 5 Circles for the selfindulgent sins, Circles 6 and 7 for
the violent sins, and Circles 8 and
9 for the malicious sins.
• He sees a sun-drenched mountain in the
distance, and he tries to climb it, but three
beasts, a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf, stand
in his way.
• Dante is forced to return to the
forest where he meets the spirit of
Virgil, who promises to lead him on
a journey through Hell so that he
may be able to enter Paradise. Dante
agrees to the journey and follows
Virgil through the gates of Hell.
• The two poets enter the vestibule of
Hell where the souls of the
uncommitted are tormented by
biting insects and damned to chase a
blank banner around for eternity.
The poets reach the banks of the
river Acheron where souls await
passage into Hell proper.
First Circle of Hell: Limbo
• The ferryman, Charon, reluctantly agrees
to take the poets across the river to
Limbo, the first circle of Hell, where
Virgil permanently resides. In Limbo, the
poets stop to speak with other great
poets, Homer, Ovid, Horace, and
Lucan, and then enter a great citadel
where philosophers reside.
• Here resides the
who, though not
sinful, did not
Second Circle: The Lustful
• Dante and Virgil enter Hell proper,
the second circle, where monster,
Minos, sits in judgment of all of the
damned, and sends them to the proper
circle according to their sin. Here,
Dante meets Paolo and Francesca, the
two unfaithful lovers buffeted about in
a windy storm.
• King of Crete, son of Zeus and
Third Circle: The Gluttons
• The poets move on to the third circle, the
Gluttons, who are guarded by the monster
Cerberus. These sinners spend eternity
wallowing in mud and mire, and here
Dante recognizes a Florentine, Ciacco,
who gives Dante the first of many
negative prophesies about him and
Fourth Circle: The Hoarders &
• Upon entering the fourth circle,
Dante and Virgil encounter the
Hoarders and the Wasters, who
spend eternity rolling giant boulders
at one another.
Fifth Circle: The Wrathful
• They move to the fifth circle, the
marsh comprising the river Styx,
where Dante is accosted by a
Florentine, Filippo Argenti; he is
amongst the Wrathful that fight and
battle one another in the mire of the
Sixth Circle: Heretics
• The city of Dis begins Circle VI, the
realm of the violent. The poets enter and
find themselves in Circle VI, realm of
the Heretics, who reside among the
thousands in burning tombs. Dante stops
to speak with two sinners, Farinata degli
Uberti, Dante's Ghibelline enemy, and
Cavalcante dei Cavalcanti, father of
Dante's poet friend, Guido.
• The poets then begin descending through a
deep valley. Here, they meet the Minotaur and
see a river of boiling blood, the
Phlegethon, where those violent against their
neighbors, tyrants, and war-makers
reside, each in a depth according to their sin.
• Virgil arranges for the Centaur, Nessus, to
take them across the river into the second
round of circle seven, the Suicides. Here
Dante speaks with the soul of Pier delle
Vigne and learns his sad tale.
Seventh Circle: Violence
• It is divided into 3 Rings:
1. Outer ring
-housing the violent against people
and property who is immersed in
Phlegethon to a level commensurate
with their sins.
2. Middle ring
-The suicides, who are transformed
into gnarled thorny bushes and trees.
They are torn at by the harpies.
3. Inner ring
God(Blasphemers), violent against
nature(Sodomites), and violent
against order (Usurers), all reside in
a desert of flaming sand with fiery
flakes raining from the sky.
• In the third round of Circle VII, a
desert wasteland awash in a rain of
burning snowflakes, Dante recognizes
and speaks with Capaneus, a famous
blasphemer. He also speaks to his
beloved advisor and scholar, Brunetto
Latini. This is the round held for the
Blasphemers, Sodomites, and the
Eighth Circle: Fraud
• Bolgia 1: Panderers and seducers march in
separate lines in opposite
directions, whipped by demons.
•Bolgia 2: Flatterers also exploited other
people, this time using language. They
are steeped in human excrement.
• Bolgia 3: Those who committed simony (simonists)
are placed head-first in holes in the rock , with
flames burning on the soles of their feet.
•Bolgia 4: Sorcerers, astrologers, and false prophets
here have their heads twisted around on their
• Bolgia 5: Corrupt politicians are immersed in
a lake of boiling pitch.
• Bolgia 6: The poets find the hypocrites who are
damned to walk endlessly in circles wearing
•Bolgia 7: Two cantos are devoted to the thieves.
They are guarded by the centaur Cacus are
pursued and bitten by snakes & lizards.
•Bolgia 8: Two further cantos are devoted to
fraudulent advisers or evil counsellors, who are
concealed within individual flames.
• Bolgia 9: A sword-wielding demon hacks at the
Sowers of Discord, dividing parts of their
bodies as in life they divided others. As they
make their rounds the wounds heal, only to
have the demon tear apart their bodies again.
•Bolgia 10: In the final Bolgia, various sorts of
falsifiers (alchemists, counterfeiters, perjurers, and
imposters) – who are a "disease" on society – are
themselves afflicted with different types of
Ninth Circle: Treachery
• They arrive at the ninth circle. It is
comprised of a giant frozen
lake, Cocytus, in which the sinners are
stuck. Dante believes that he sees towers in
the distance, which turn out to be the
Giants. One of the Giants, Antaeus, takes
the poets on his palm and gently places
them at the bottom of the well.
• The ninth circle is divided into 4
Caïna, after Cain, who killed his
brother. Traitors to kindred are here
immersed in the ice up to their faces –
"the place / where shame can show
• Round 2:
–Antenora, after Antenor of Troy, who
according to medieval tradition, betrayed
his city to the Greeks. Traitors to
political entities, such as parties, cities, or
countries, are located here.
• Here, Dante accidentally kicks a
traitor in the head, and when the
traitor will not tell him his name,
Dante treats him savagely.
• Dante hears the terrible story of
Count Ugolino, who is gnawing the
head and neck of Archbishop
Ruggieri, due to Ruggieri's
treacherous treatment of him in the
• Round 3:
-Ptolomaea, probably after
Ptolemy, son of Abubus, who invited Simon
Maccabaeus and his sons to a banquet and
then killed them. Traitors to their guests
are punished here, lying supine in the ice.
• Dante speaks with a soul who begs
him to take the ice visors, formed
from tears, out of his eyes. Dante
promises to do so, but after hearing
his story refuses.
-Judecca, after Judas Iscariot, Biblical
betrayer of Christ. It houses the Traitors
to Their Masters, who are completely
covered and fixed in the ice, and Satan,
who is fixed waist deep in the ice and has
three heads, each of which is chewing a
traitor: Judas, Brutus, and Cassius.
• Satan is waist deep in ice, weeping
tears from his six eyes, and beating
his six wings as if trying to
escape, although the icy wind that
emanates only further ensures his
• The poets climb Satan's side, passing
the center of gravity, and find
themselves at the edge of the river
Lethe, ready to make the long
journey to the upper world. They
enter the upper world just before
dawn on Easter Sunday, and they see
the stars overhead.
–The lady who plays a music that
attracted both Dante and Virgil in
the shores of Purgatory.
–A pagan who has been placed by
God as the general guardian of the
• Gate of Purgatory
–It is guarded by an angel who uses
sword to draw the letter “P” in the
forehead to anyone who enters the
–A woman of grace and beauty who
prepares souls for their ascent in
• Having survived the depths of Hell,
Dante and Virgil ascend out of the
undergloom, to the Mountain of
Purgatory on the far side of the
• The Mountain is on an island, the only
land in the Southern
Hemisphere, created by the displacement
of rock which resulted when Satan's fall
created Hell (which Dante portrays as
existing underneath Jerusalem).
• The mountain has seven
terraces, corresponding to the seven
deadly sins or "seven roots of
• On the shores of the island, Dante and
Virgil watch a boat arrive. Guided by an
angel, the boat shuttles a new batch of
penitent souls to Purgatory. Like these
souls, Dante is about to climb Mount
Purgatory, learning lessons, and
cleansing himself of sin in preparation
for ascending to Heaven.
• At the shores of Purgatory, Dante and
Virgil meet Cato.
First Terrace of Purgatory:
• On the terrace where proud souls
purge their sin, Dante and Virgil see
beautiful sculptures expressing
humility, the opposite virtue. The
first example is of the Annunciation
to the Virgin Mary.
• After being introduced to humility,
Dante and Virgil meet the souls of the
proud, who are bent over by the weight
of huge stones on their backs. As they
walk around the terrace, they are able to
profit from the sculpted examples of
• After his conversations with the proud, Dante
notes further sculptures on the pavement below,
this time illustrating pride itself. The sculptures
show Satan (Lucifer), the building of the Tower
of Babel, King Saul, Arachne, King Rehoboam,
• As the poets ascend to the next terrace, an angel
brushes Dante's forehead with his wings, erasing
the letter "P" (peccatum) corresponding to the
sin of pride, and Dante hears the beatitude Beati
pauperes spiritu ("Blessed are the poor in spirit,"
Matthew 5:3) (Canto XII).
Second terrace: The Envious
• On entering the terrace of the
envious, Dante and Virgil first hear
voices on the air telling stories of
generosity, the opposite virtue.
• An episode from the life of the Virgin
Mary; this time, the scene from the Life of
the Virgin is the Wedding at Cana
• The souls of the envious wear
penitential grey cloaks, and their eyes are
sewn shut with iron wire, resembling the
way a falconer sews shut the eyes of a
falcon in order to train it.
Third terrace: the Wrathful
• Dante has a vision containing examples
• Black smoke, the punishment of the
wrathful, envelops them, rendering them
• Dante and Virgil met Marco Lombardo.
Fourth terrace: the Slothful
• Virgil explains how love determines the
structure of Purgatory. Love and
• The slothful are purged to run without
• Dante had a nightmare about a Siren.
Fifth terrace: the Covetous
• They witness the punishment: lying face
down on the ground and bound by hand
• The penitents shout exampples of
poverty and generosity.
• Mount Purgatory trembles suddenly.
-This happens everytime a penitent
soul becomes completely purged and
ready to ascend to heaven.
•An epic poem named Statius joins
Dante and Virgil.
Sixth terrace: the Gluttonous
• They encounter a strange tree.
• A disembodied voice cites examples
•They encountered a man named Forese
Donati, who explains the punishment
for the gluttons are agonizing thirst and
Seventh terrace: the Lustful
• Dante, Virgil and Statius witness the
punishment: walking on flames.
• The lustful examples of chastity.
• For Dante to leave the seventh
terrace, he must walk through the a
wall of flames.
• He hesitates with fear. Virgil lures
him through, saying that he will see
Beatrice on the other side.
•Virgil anounces that Dante is ready
for the Earthly Paradise.
In the Earthly Paradise…
• Dante meets a woman named Matilda.
- Explained the origins of the wind
and water in the forest of the
sphere: Moon: the Inconstant
• Souls who abandoned their vows,
and so were deficient in the virtue of
2nd sphere: Mercury: the Ambitious
• Souls who did good out of desire for
fame, but who, being ambitious, were
deficient in the virtue of justice.
• Their earthly glory pales into
insignificance beside the glory of
God, just as Mercury pales into
insignificance beside the sun.
sphere: Venus: the Lovers
• Souls that did good out of love, but
were deficient in the virtue of
sphere: Sun: the Wise
• Souls of the wise, who embody
5th sphere: Mars: the Warriors of the
• Souls who fought for
Christianity, and who embody
sphere: Jupiter: the Just Rulers
• Soul who personified
justice, something of great concern
7th sphere: Saturn: the Contemplatives
• Souls of the contemplatives, who
8th sphere: Fixed Stars: Faith, Hope
• Sphere of the Church Triumphant.
9th sphere: Primum Mobile: the Angels
• The abode of angels.
• The abode of God
• Dante sees an enormous rose, symbolising
divine love, the petals of which are the
enthroned souls of the faithful (both those
of the Old Testament and those of the
New). All the souls he has met in Heaven,
including Beatrice, have their home in this
• Dante comes face-to-face with God
• God appears as three equally large
circles occupying the same
space, representing the Father, the
Son, and the Holy Spirit.
• Within these circles Dante can
discern the human form of Christ.
• The Divine Comedy ends with
Dante trying to understand how the
circles fit together, and how the
humanity of Christ relates to the
divinity of the Son but, as Dante
puts it, "that was not a flight for my
wings." In a flash of understanding,
which he cannot express, Dante does
finally see this, and his soul becomes
aligned with God's love.