So far, I've only read Inferno and Purgatorio, but I do intend to read Paradiso very soon, once I can find the goddamn book in question (excuse the pun), but from what I've read, it's a truly beautiful work. So much descriptive nature, and from the 14th century too, you can really imagine what was going through some of these intellectual minds! Poor Dante Alighieri, a man who held a deep profound love for a person he met only twice, got embroiled in Florentine politics, and was later conned by Pope Boniface VIII, and exiled from his native city. Damned if he didn't provide such a wondrous literary legacy though. Essentially, the Divine Comedy is semi-autobiographical, and includes Virgil, one of his literary idols.
I guess you could call this one of my informal "Lessons Topics", and no, I won't go to the trouble of numbering this series. Personally, I'd like to hope that each and every one of my posts contributes to broadening your education, but I also know some of my posts are just outright silly, plain bizarre, or introspective looks into my past. And, unless the CIA really is that interested in my psychological profile, I doubt very much the rest of you really will be. So, without further ado, I shall list off the various circles of Hell, and their sub divisions here.
Gates of Hell: According to Dante, the Gates of Hell lead into Hell, if you can imagine that (my mother can't, she doesn't buy into the Concept of Hell), and instead of just dropping you off smack dab in the First Circle, your in the Ante-Chamber of Hell, where all the Cowards and those who didn't act for either Good or Evil are condemned to run around for all eternity, while being chased by hornets and wasps. These condemned souls run around and around, chasing a banner that only they can see, and this banner is essentially Self-Interest. On the ground, maggots and worms continuously devour their tears, blood, and pus (yum), and this chamber dwells right on the outer banks of the River of Archeon, which frames right around the First Circle.
First Circle, Limbo: According to Dante, all Virtuous Pagans arrive here, with the likes of Homer, Ovid, Lucan, Horace, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Saladin, and other figures. It's definitely the most pleasant of the circles, unless you enjoy running around in circles chasing an imaginary banner. It's essentially a Medieval interpretation of the Elysian Fields, complete with virtuous pagans, and unbaptized infants. Isn't that lovely, little babies just crawling around the First Circle of Hell, all because their parents just couldn't get them baptized in enough time? Fucking organized religion, it's like organized crime, only a lot more bullshit involved.
Second Circle, Lust: Hell stops being really cool abruptly at the First Circle, and here we have the illustrious King Minos holding court here, the being who condemns all denizens of Hell by judging them for their sins. Essentially, King Minos wraps his tail around you a number of times, which never exceeds nine (unless you work RETAIL), and your sent to that corresponding circle. Something that's always bothered me, if he doesn't wrap his tail around you, do you go to the Ante-Chamber, or do you automatically pop up there? Anyway, the Second Circle is composed of Lusty people, such as Francesca da Rimni, Paolo da Rimni, Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, Achilles, and other illustrious people. There fate is to be blown about in a massive whirlwind for eternity, always separated from other people, and essentially molested by the wind. So I guess if your afraid of fast moving oxygen, don't fuck around if you buy into the Zombie Carpenter Cult.
Third Circle, Gluttony: How fitting I'm writing about this circle while eating a Volcano Burrito from Taco Bell, but you know, I'm a sucker for Taco Bell, so I can just kiss my colon goodbye in about ten years or so. Essentially, the Third Circle is filled with people who couldn't stop eating and indulging themselves of the finer foods or drink, and this Circle is guarded over by Cerebus, everyone's favorite three headed mutt. The poem didn't go into length about the souls here, but some lard ass named Ciacco was imprisoned here. On top of being forced to lie in filth, the sky constantly rains down urine, pus, filth, and other forms of garbage and excrement. Dom DeLouise, we hardly knew ya.
Fourth Circle, Greed: If you hoarded all your riches and were a miser in life, or if you spent and wasted all your riches in life, you end up down here, pushing boulders around for eternity. Sometimes, when clashing into other people while pushing the boulders, you randomly scream "WHY DO YOU HOARD!" or "WHY DO YOU WASTE!", all while Plutus, the God of Wealth presides down here. The poem mentions no one of repute down here, but Dante admits he saw a lot of former monks with tonsured hair in that circle, probably making a mockery of the practice of Indulgences.
Fifth Circle, Anger and Sullen: Damn, we just can't have any form of fun, because being to Angry causes you to be placed in the River Styx, or if you were too Sullen, i.e. Depressed, your stuck underwater. Along Dante and Virgil's way, they encounter Filipio Argenti, an enemy of Dante's from when he still lived. This marsh is watched over by Phlygeas, and the man ferries the duo away from the Circles of Passive Sins (excluding Limbo and the Ante-Chamber), and into Active Sins!
Sixth Circle, Heresy: After taking shit from the Fallen Angels and being threatened by the Furies, Dante and Virgil cross into the Heretic's Circle, where the Heretics are kept in burning tombs for eternity. Farinata degli Uberti and Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti are kept down here, two members of opposing political parties, for their Epicurean beliefs that the Souls die with the body. Essentially, if your not good with God after the Roman Era, your pretty much fucked.
Seventh Circle, Violence: Here we have an interesting circle, broken into three various rings, the Outer Ring for the Violent against Man, the Middle Ring for the Violent against Self, and the Inner Ring for the Violent against Nature. People such as Alexander the Great, and Attila the Hun, and are immersed in boiling blood. The Middle Circle, or the Wood of Suicides, has people transformed into trees while the Harpies pluck out their branches. Here we meet Pier delle Vigne, and out in the Inner Circle, where the Violent against Nature reside, we have Brunetto Latini, a high figure Dante once looked up too down here with the Sodomites. On our way out of the circle, we meet Geryon, who will fly our intrepid tour seekers to the Malebolge, aka the Eighth Circle of Hell.
Eighth Circle, Fraud (aka Malebolge): If there's a game show in Hell, it's without a doubt the Eighth Circle of Fraud, or better known as the Malebolge, which means "Evil Ditches". If Malebolge sounds familiar to you Spawn Comic Book fans, now you know where it comes from. This circle is so vast, I'm going to take the time to explain each circle separately:
Bolgia I, Pimps and Seducers: While you may be a bit surprised to find people who ruined lives by lust here, Pimping and Seducing is essentially a social fraud of sorts, designed to get into people's pants. I was a bit stunned to see Sodomites up in circle seven, until realizing that Sodomy was probably a violent act against Nature. On a huge plus note, my namesake, Jason of the Argonauts, dwells down here, and is the only person not lamenting his abuse, being whipped as he runs around in a circle for an eternity without rest. Fuck yes, I rule even in Hell.
Bolgia II, Flatterers: Remember the old saying, Flattery will get you no where? Ok, remember that disgusting video, Two Girls, One Cup? All right... let's assume Flattery does in fact get you somewhere, but wading around in a river of liquid shit all eternity. Pee whew, at least you'll get to spend eternity with Thais, an alleged mythological father fucker of sorts.
Bolgia III, Simony: Now were moving from some social fraud into Ecclesiastical Fraud, i.e., the buying and selling of Holy Offices of the church. It's where Nicolas III dwells, along with Boniface VIII, and other scourges of the Holy Vatican. How are they punished you ask? Very ironically (as with all tortured subjects in Dante's Hell), by being immersed into flaming pits, like a reverse baptism BY FIRE! Actually, only the soles of their feet are on fire, but it's very unpleasant to be crammed deeper into the hole as another person is thrown on top of you later on.
Bolgia IV, Sorcerers and Diviners: If you think Miss Cleo had a massive racket going on up here, wait till that lying bitch is thrown into Hell for trying to tell the future. These people have there necks twisted around ass backwards, and are forced to walk backwards all eternity, with their tears streaking down their backs, and into the cleft of their buttocks. Goddamn Dante really doesn't let these people have fun, unless its at our expense. Mantua the Seer is trapped down here for uh, telling the future I imagine.
Bolgia V, Grafters and False Politicians: Nixon we hardly knew ya, but of what we did know, you were a devious lying political scumbag, just like many of the other politicians. Down here, your immersed in boiling pitch and tar for an eternity, and worse, if you come up and surface for air, you get skewered with hooks by the Malebranche, evil demons who lift you into the air to shear off your flesh. Ciampolo, a corrupt courtier of sorts, is kept down here.
Bolgia VI, Hypocrites: Finally something we can enjoy (I hate politics), we have the Hypocrites. Feel like marching around for an eternity while wearing extremely flashy robes? Go right ahead, be my guest you fucking hypocrite, but there's a catch! The outside of the robes will be soft, plush, and nice to the touch, but the insides will be as heavy as lead, and you'll be forced to keep moving forever. Worse, if your some asshole named Caiaphas, lucky you, you don't have to wear the robes. Fuck you though, your crucified to the ground, and worse, these slow moving assholes walk over you for an eternity, ouch.
Bolgia VII, Thieves: An extremely entertaining circle, the Thieves here are chased for all eternity by snakes, and when there bitten, they either explode into ash, only to be reformed, or turn into a snake themselves, before having to bite someone else to change back into their own bodies. This goes on and on for all eternity, and these people are patrolled by Caucus the Centaur.
Bolgia VIII, Fraudulent Advisers: I imagine someone like Karl Rove, Iago, or even Thanatos from the Secret of Mana will be here, for giving evil advise to leaders. These people are immersed in burning flames all eternity, and shamble about uselessly. Ulysses and Diomedes are kept in this circle, along with Guido de Montefeltro, a corrupt adviser to Pope Boniface VIII.
Bolgia IX, Sowers of Discord: Jefferson Davis, we hardly knew ya, but we also have Mohamet down here, his son in law Ali, and Bertrand de Born, some guy who tricked one of the King Henrys' of England into declaring war on his dad. These guys get hacked up by demons for all eternity, and are forced to march around while their wounds heal, all to get hacked up again! Fuck, this is going from exciting to boring, no offense Dante, but what if there legs get cut up, is that some for of macabre respite?
Bolgia X, Liars, Impersonators, Alchemists, Perjurers: So basically anyone who lies a fucking lot, impersonates others (poor Buddy Ebsen and Red Skelton), people who try and make things from other things, or people who lie in court (good call after all) end up down here, and are left disease ridden for all eternity. We have Master Adam down here, some famous counterfeiter from back in the day, Sinon the Greek, the man who tricked the Trojans into taking the Wooden Horse into their city, and Portiphar's Wife, the woman who had Joseph thrown in prison for claiming he tried to rape her.
Just beyond this ring is a well that is ringed by several giants, amongst them Biblical Nimrod, and Virgil has Antaeus the Giant lower himself and Dante into the last and Final Circle of Hell. Stay with me folks, were almost done!
Ninth Circle, Treachery: The lowest of the low, all those who have betrayed their family, countries, guests, or masters end up down here. All are immersed in the Frozen Lake of Cocytus, and the first circle, Caina, is held for people who betrayed their own family members. The second circle Antenora, is held for people who betrayed their own nation, Count Ungolino is kept down here while gnawing on the head of Archbishop Ruggieri, the third circle of Ptolomaea holds Fra Albergio, for betraying his guests, while the fourth circle of Judecca holds people completely immersed in the ice. At the very center of this dark circle is Lucifer himself, gnawing on the three greatest traitors of all time with his three faces, Brutus and Cassius in his side mouths, and Judas in the central mouth. Ultimately, Lucifer is kept in the very center of the circle, and continuously cries while his six wings beat away, which constantly freezes himself in the lake even further. According to the poem, since Earth is the center of the Universe, Lucifer is at the very center of the universe, where all Sin sinks down to, and that is where gravity is the greatest.
I hope you all enjoyed my brief lesson (ok it was anything but brief, but if I get sent to the Malebolge for this, fuck you all), because I certainly enjoyed reading this literary masterpiece. And now, I'm off to find the Divine Comedy, so I can finally read Paradiso! According to many people by the way, amongst them my revered History Professor, Professor Hugo Schwyzer, Paradiso is a very dull read, and that he would commend me if I actually finished it. For his sake, and to get praise from Caesar himself, I do intend to read this poem. So long gang!