Divine Comedy - Sin and Judgment in Dante's Inferno

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Dante's Concept of Sin and Judgment in The Inferno

Infidelity, murder, betrayal, and conspiracy all play an integral part in the story of the relationship between Jason and Medea. Jason is guilty of all four acts and Medea involves herself in three. Yet, perhaps, in the eyes of Dante, Medea might fall further into the realm of Dis than Jason. But, should she? And, is Dante's view of Jason and his sentence in Hell appropriate?

From Dante's perspective, crimes of passion or desire are the least abhorrent and consequently deserve minimal punishment in comparison to what he believes are the more serious offenses. These sinners, the carnal, the gluttonous, the hoarders and wasters, along with the wrathful and sullen fall just below the virtuous pagans in Dante's hell. In some way, they represent a loss of self control, of reason gone amiss, as each plunges into a personal world of self indulgence. To Dante, those that succumb to the pleasures of the 'will' deserve an eternity less painful than those who fall into emotional or psychological despair. Yet, like the sins that constitute placement deeper in the bowels of Hell, all represent a punishment equal to or reflective of the sin as it existed in life. For example, the carnal are banished to an eternity of being whirled about by the wind (Dante) forever lusting after what they sought in life. They reach for shadows that were once the bodies they desired. However, in Hell the only thing they feel is the passion they lost.

Next, Dante describes the sinners who dwell within the walls of Dis. Confined to the city of Hell are the heretics and those who commit acts of violence against either their neighbors, themselves, or God, art, or...

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...f transgressions, betrayal of one's benefactor, and both deserve to torment each other for eternity in the pit of Hell.

Works Cited

Dante. The Inferno. Trans. John Ciardi. New York: Penguin, 1954.

Euripides. Medea. Trans. Rex Warner. New York: Dover, 1993.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes. New York: Penguin, 1969.

Ovid. Metamorphoses. Trans. A.D. Melville. New York: Oxford UP, 1986.

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