Throughout Dante's terrifying quest into the depths of Inferno he encounters many mythological characters and creatures. The legendary characters that Dante borrows from the Greek mythology are punished in his hell for deceiving others and succumbing to the excitement of passion, amongst them are Dido, Odysseus, Achilles, Paris and Helen, Tristan and Sinon. The mythical monsters oversee these damned souls. These imaginary creatures are of central importance to Dante’s journey and to the narrative, as they not only challenge his presence in Inferno, but also are guardians of Hell, judging and punishing the souls. As well, they represent important themes in the Inferno, and are interpretations of important symbols. The mythological characters are vital in this epic poem, as they are not only used as important metaphors, but also keep the Inferno going.
Dante first comes in contact with the mythological characters in the second circle of Hell. This section is populated with those who could not deny the temptation of passion, and surrendered themselves to the desires of the flesh. They are eternally swept around an uncontrollable wind just like they “…abandoned themselves to the tempest of their passions” (57). Amongst them is the Queen of Carthage, Dido, who was manipulated by the gods to fall in love with Aeneas. She allowed passion to consume her so much that she could no longer live after Aeneas left. Her punishment would have also been appropriate of those who committed suicide in Canto XIII, but since her sin was driven by love Dante placed her with the Carnal. Here is also Tristan, a legendary knight of Kind Arthur’s Round Table who had an affair with an Irish princess, Iseult who was ar...
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...tim because that is when the deceitful reveal their true intentions, just like Geryon’s tail appeared to be that of a poisonous scorpion.
Dante used many mythological characters and creature in the Inferno, and he has even altered some to make them fit perfectly into the narrative. These characters are not only used as Greek legendaries, but they also depict symbolism and add depth to the poem. The mythical creatures are eternal torturers, and punishers of sinners who chose not to follow the right path. They challenge Dante’s presence, and become more and more difficult to persuade as Dante gets deeper into circles of hell. The inclusion of these mythological characters and creatures is vital to the Inferno as they not only express the influence of other works on Inferno, but also his own brilliant creativity and originality.
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