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The Divine Comedy
Part 1: Inferno
 More of this Feature
• Introduction
• Inferno
• Purgatorio
• Paradiso
• Six Sonnets
 Related Resources
• Dante
• Dante: Hell on the Web
• History of Italian
 Inferno Cantos
• I
• II
• IV
• V
• VI
• IX
• X
• XI
• XV
• XX

Gustave Dore's Illustrations For The Divine Comedy In Dante's cosmology the earth is at the center of the universe and Hell a vast funnel-shaped cavity or reversed cone reaching from near the earth's surface to the center, which is the center of the universe, the farthest point from God. The sides of the cavity form a succession of concentric levels in diminishing circles as they approach the central depth, and on these levels the successive classes of the impenitent are punished, each lower circle punishing more severely a worse offense. Jerusalem, as the place of the Crucifixion, is the center of the land hemisphere, in the line of the central axis of Hell. The other hemisphere is all water except for the island-mountain of Purgatory, at the antipodes of Jerusalem. Dante's journey is from the edge of the pit—we are not told where or how he enters—down to the center, and then continuing in the same direction, up the bed of a subterranean stream to the shore of Purgatory.

It should be noted that in Dante's narrative "here" means the present world, in which he tells his story, and "there" the world of the dead. In dialogues, of course, this usage is reversed.

The System of Dante's Inferno

Circle 1. Virtuous Heathen
Circle 2. Lascivious
Circle 3. Gluttons
Circle 4. Avaricious and Prodigal
Circle 5. Wrathful
Circle 7.
(1) Violent against others
(2) Violent against self
(3) Violent against God, nature, and art
Circle 8. Simply Fraudulent
(1) Panders and Seducers
(2) Flatterers
(3) Simonists
(4) Diviners
(5) Barrators
(6) Hypocrites
(7) Thieves
(8) Fraudulent counselors
(9) Makers of discord
(10) Falsifiers
Circle 9. Treacherous
(1) to kindred
(2) to country and cause
(3) to guests
(4) to lords and benefactors

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