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Posts published in “Dante, The Inferno”

Dante’s Inferno is one of the most famous and influential works of Western literature. Written by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri in the early 14th century, Dante’s Inferno is a visionary work that tells the story of the narrator’s journey through Hell and his ultimate encounter with God. This epic poem is considered one of the great masterpieces of medieval literature and has had a profound impact on literature, art, and culture throughout the centuries.

An image of Dante Alighieri for the Classical Liberal Arts Academy's English Composition course.
Dante Alighieri (1265-1321)

The Divine Comedy is divided into three parts: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. Inferno is the first part of the poem and is devoted to the narrator’s journey through the nine circles of Hell. Each circle of Hell is devoted to a particular sin and is inhabited by the souls of those who committed that sin during their lifetime. Dante’s portrayal of Hell is vivid and terrifying, and his descriptions of the punishments meted out to the damned are both imaginative and memorable.


Dante’s Inferno is a masterful work of imagination that combines elements of classical and medieval thought, as well as the poet’s own political and religious views. Through his journey through Hell, Dante aims to both entertain and instruct, offering a vivid and thought-provoking commentary on the nature of sin, morality, and the human condition. The poem is also notable for its use of allegory, with each of the nine circles of Hell representing a different aspect of the human psyche and its struggles with sin and temptation.

For those who are new to Dante’s Inferno, it can be a challenging but rewarding work to study. There are many resources available to help readers understand and appreciate the poem, including commentaries, study guides, and online resources. Many colleges and universities also offer courses on Dante’s Inferno and the Divine Comedy, and there are a variety of books and essays available that explore the poem’s themes, symbolism, and historical context.

In conclusion, Dante’s Inferno is a classic work of literature that remains relevant and engaging even today. Through its imaginative and thought-provoking portrayal of the journey through Hell, the poem offers a powerful commentary on the nature of sin, morality, and the human condition. Whether you are a seasoned reader of Dante’s Inferno or are just discovering this classic work for the first time, it is sure to be a captivating and enriching experience.

Adapted from the Catholic Encyclopedia

Translation of Dante’s Inferno

by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882).

Canto I.

The Dark Forest. The Hill of Difficulty. The Panther, the Lion, and the Wolf. Virgil.

Canto II.

The Descent. Dante’s Protest and Virgil’s Appeal. The Intercession of the Three Ladies Benedight.

Canto III.

The Gate of Hell. The Inefficient or Indifferent. Pope Celestine V. The Shores of Acheron. Charon. The Earthquake and the Swoon.

Canto IV

The First Circle, Limbo: Virtuous Pagans and the Unbaptized. The Four Poets, Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan. The Noble Castle of Philosophy.

Canto V

The Second Circle: The Wanton. Minos. The Infernal Hurricane. Francesca da Rimini.

Canto VI

The Third Circle: The Gluttonous. Cerberus. The Eternal Rain. Ciacco. Florence.

Canto VII

The Fourth Circle: The Avaricious and the Prodigal. Plutus. Fortune and her Wheel. The Fifth Circle: The Irascible and the Sullen. Styx.

Canto VIII

Phlegyas. Philippo Argenti. The Gate of the City of Dis.

Canto IX

The Furies and Medusa. The Angel. The City of Dis. The Sixth Circle: Heresiarchs.

Canto X

Farinata and Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti. Discourse on the Knowledge of the Damned.

Canto XI

The Broken Rocks. Pope Anastasius. General Description of the Inferno and its Divisions

Canto XII

The Minotaur. The Seventh Circle: The Violent. The River Phlegethon. The Violent against their Neighbours. The Centaurs. Tyrants.

Canto XIII

The Wood of Thorns. The Harpies. The Violent against themselves. Suicides. Pier della Vigna. Lano and Jacopo da Sant’ Andrea.

Canto XIV

The Sand Waste and the Rain of Fire. The Violent against God. Capaneus. The Statue of Time, and the Four Infernal Rivers.

Canto XV

The Violent against Nature. Brunetto Latini.

Canto XVI

Guidoguerra, Aldobrandi, and Rusticucci. Cataract of the River of Blood.

Canto XVII

Geryon. The Violent against Art. Usurers. Descent into the Abyss of Malebolge.


The Eighth Circle, Malebolge: The Fraudulent and the Malicious. The First Bolgia: Seducers and Panders. Venedico Caccianimico. Jason. The Second Bolgia: Flatterers. Allessio Interminelli. Thais.

Canto XIX

The Third Bolgia: Simoniacs. Pope Nicholas III. Dante’s Reproof of corrupt Prelates.

Canto XX

The Fourth Bolgia: Soothsayers. Amphiaraus, Tiresias, Aruns, Manto, Eryphylus, Michael Scott, Guido Bonatti, and Asdente. Virgil reproaches Dante’s Pity. Mantua’s Foundation.

Canto XXI

The Fifth Bolgia: Peculators. The Elder of Santa Zita. Malacoda and other Devils.

Canto XXII

Ciampolo, Friar Gomita, and Michael Zanche. The Malabranche quarrel.


Escape from the Malabranche. The Sixth Bolgia: Hypocrites. Catalano and Loderingo. Caiaphas.

Canto XXIV

The Seventh Bolgia: Thieves. Vanni Fucci. Serpents.

Canto XXV

Vanni Fucci’s Punishment. Agnello Brunelleschi, Buoso degli Abati, Puccio Sciancato, Cianfa de’ Donati, and Guercio Cavalcanti.

Canto XXVI

The Eighth Bolgia: Evil Counsellors. Ulysses and Diomed. Ulysses’ Last Voyage.


Guido da Montefeltro. His deception by Pope Boniface VIII.


The Ninth Bolgia: Schismatics. Mahomet and Ali. Pier da Medicina, Curio, Mosca, and Bertrand de Born.

Canto XXIX

Geri del Bello. The Tenth Bolgia: Alchemists. Griffolino d’ Arezzo and Capocchino.

Canto XXX

Other Falsifiers or Forgers. Gianni Schicchi, Myrrha, Adam of Brescia, Potiphar’s Wife, and Sinon of Troy.

Canto XXXI

The Giants, Nimrod, Ephialtes, and Antaeus. Descent to Cocytus.


The Ninth Circle: Traitors. The Frozen Lake of Cocytus. First Division, Caina: Traitors to their Kindred. Camicion de’ Pazzi. Second Division, Antenora: Traitors to their Country. Dante questions Bocca degli Abati. Buoso da Duera.


Count Ugolino and the Archbishop Ruggieri. The Death of Count Ugolino’s Sons. Third Division of the Ninth Circle, Ptolomaea: Traitors to their Friends. Friar Alberigo, Branco d’ Oria.


Fourth Division of the Ninth Circle, the Judecca: Traitors to their Lords and Benefactors. Lucifer, Judas Iscariot, Brutus, and Cassius. The Chasm of Lethe. The Ascent.

Dante’s Inferno in Literature

Dante’s Inferno has had a lasting impact on literature, art, and culture and has been referenced, parodied, and adapted in countless works over the centuries. Here are a few examples of references to Dante’s Inferno in literature:

  1. “A Modest Proposal” by Jonathan Swift – In this satirical essay, Swift makes reference to the punishment of the gluttons in Dante’s Inferno, comparing the plight of the Irish poor to the suffering of the damned.
  2. “The Waste Land” by T.S. Eliot – In this landmark work of modernist poetry, Eliot makes several references to Dante’s Inferno, including a nod to the famous scene of the ferryman Charon.
  3. “The Divine Comedy” by Doris Lessing – This novel is a modern retelling of Dante’s Divine Comedy, with the narrator journeying through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven in a quest for spiritual enlightenment.
  4. “Inferno” by Dan Brown – This bestselling novel is a contemporary retelling of Dante’s Inferno, with the protagonist traveling through a modern-day version of Hell to uncover a global conspiracy.
  5. “The Decameron” by Giovanni Boccaccio – This collection of 100 short stories was influenced by Dante’s Divine Comedy and includes several references to the poem, including a retelling of the story of Ulysses.

These are just a few examples of the many references to Dante’s Inferno that can be found in literature. The poem’s lasting impact and influence are a testament to its enduring power and relevance.

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