Dante's Inferno


Dante?s Inferno is one of the three parts of his Divine Comedy. The Inferno is divided into thirty-four cantos, each containing a description of a specific region of hell. Sinners in each area are punished for different sins. Sinners of lust suffer in upper hell, sinners of violence in middle hell, and the sinners of fraud in the lowest part of hell. The sufferings of these people are portrayed through Dante?s eyes as he descends lower and lower into hell with Virgil, his helper. The punishment for each sinner corresponds to the sin that they committed. In Canto 18, Dante and Virgil travel into the First and Second Pouch of the eighth circle of hell, also called Malebolge. This region of hell is divided into ten parts, or "pouches", where sinners of "ordinary" fraud are punished. In the First Pouch, the panders and seducers are whipped by horned demons. Here Dante encountered Venédico Caccianemico, a Bolognese who pandered his own sister, giving her to another man as a prostitute. These panders and seducers had forced other people to obey them, many times against their will, and had tortured them if they didn?t listen. As compensation for their sins, they are being held under the control of the demons, and are also being tortured continually. This continual suffering also accounts for the surplus time these sinners had in manipulating others. In the Second Pouch, flatterers are punished by being made to live in an abysmal pit of excrement. Flatterers are sycophants who try to use insincere and excessive praise to look good in other people?s eyes. These false attentions and comments are commonly called "bull-*censored*" in slang. This applies directly to what these sinners are condemned to live in forever. In the 23rd Canto, Dante and Virgil travel from the Fifth Pouch of Malebolge to the Sixth Pouch, where hypocrites are being punished. They are made to walk around in circles in cloaks that are overlaid with a thin covering of gold on the outside, but inlaid with a very thick heavy layer of lead. These sinners are made to carry this heavy burden of lead forever. Here, Dante talked with a man and his friend who were friars of a Catholic military order called Jovial Friars. Even though the adjective "jovial" did not mean anything negative at first, but this term began to have significance later on when these so-called ascetic friars started to neglect their work of reconciliation and peace-making to satisfy their greed for luxury. As a result, they are made to wear those gilded cloaks to show their greed for riches and to carry the burden of the lead hood. The two very different layerings of the cloak show the two-faced natures of hypocrites; on the outside they seem so righteous and clean, but truly, inside they are just the opposite. Also back then King Fredrick II forced a similar but faster and more excruciating punishment on the people who betrayed other people?s trust. He forced them to wear leaded hoods also, placed them in cauldrons, and boiled them until the lead became hot, and until eventually the person died. Lead was also a common backing for mirrors during that time. This fact could be used to say that these leaded cloaks truly mirrored how bogus these hypocrites? true natures were. Hypocrisy is prevalent in today?s modern society. Even Bill Clinton, the president of the world?s most powerful country is a world-renown hypocrite. His extramarital relationships have shown him to be a hypocrite of various categories. At one time he said to Monica Lewinsky, his latest mistress, that he can?t do any sexual activities with her on a Sunday because it is a holy day. However, in his actions, Clinton is showing no respect for his beliefs whatsoever. Instead is subtly denouncing them by having an adulterous relationship while knowing that it is wrong and while trying to maintain a facade of a Christian. Sure, he can always be forgiven, but after every affair he gets caught for, Clinton has yet to truly repent and change. Clinton has also been trying to put up a false front of a faithful and innocent husband all throughout the Monica Lewinsky trial. He even said publicly, that he "did not have a sexual relationship with that woman [ Monica Lewinsky]. In Sex Advice for the Clinton Age [