Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (2023)

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orThe Divine Comedy

To understand the movement and what is happening, we need to define some symbolic parameters typical of the style used by Dante.

See beforeGeography of Dante

and the structure

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (1)

1. symbolic parameter: rhetorical language configuration, narrative and style

The style is what Italians call comical due to the use of vulgar language. What is written in Latin is intended to indicate the relevance or importance of the passage in the narrative. Virgilio is called Doctor because he knows the information and because the master is superior to Dante who is the agent, the protagonist

2. Symbolic parameter:location and physical format

Structure of the afterlife in Dante Alighieri's vision.
underworld“ in Italian means the world of the dead according to various mythological or religious ideas. There is no correct translation into English.

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (2)

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (3)

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (4)

Increase the size of the character until you can read and see that the first three things Boticelli set were: Acheron, Dark Forest, and the Gates of Hell.

Hell is an inverted conical chasm that opens beneath Jerusalem and was brought about by the fall of Heaven's rebellious angels (Lucifer). Lucifer was the brightest angel in heaven, but he did not want to submit to God, more radiant than him, fell from heaven and became a demon. (Proud); Jerusalem was opened in two and then closed again to avoid being defiled by the rebellious angels. The Pillars of Hercules mark the boundary to the west and the Ganges River to the east. On the opposite side of Hell was the Mount of Purgatory, where on the last "floor" is the Garden of Eden.

Take a look at the three maps above and one on top of the other and you will see the path Dante takes along the poem, observing that he "goes down" when he enters Hell and "climbs up" to the Mount of Purgatorio , who is up to the sky,is on the opposite side of the earthAfter crossing the River Styx in the water hemisphere, remember that the earth is round.

3. Symbolic parameter

location, allegorical figures, symbols and meaning,for each song

entrance gate

Gesang 1 (Watch the animation on Youtube)

Location: Dark Forest
Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

  • Dark forest = sin
  • Dante = "Agens" character and "Auctor" author
  • Virgilio = guide, master and author
  • Panther = Lust
  • lion = pride
  • she-wolf = desire, greed

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (5)

Dante wakes up in a forest, symbolizing that he has lost his mind. Forests were the symbol of risk because thieves and bandits hid there. "In the middle of our life's journey" - refers to the period of about 35 years in the middle of life. Dante begins to take stock of what he has done. Dante must therefore go through all the evils of the world to find his salvation: this is the meaning of his journey. The poet doesn't know how he got into this forest and finds himself sleepy as he is the nocturnal moment lying in the middle of the night which also means he doesn't know where to go.

Dante is agent (he is the protagonist) and auctor or the one who counts and demonstrates the raising of man's consciousness. When Dante sees the sunlit hill, he sees in it a glimmer of salvation to get out of his sinful life.
Virgilio, his literary idol. appears to save Dante from beasts. The three beasts are the representation of vices (lust, pride and greed). Virgilio takes Dante under his protection and accompanies him to Mount Purgatory. His soul is sunk in sin and he wants to return to the light (Exit thr forest). Virgilio represents human reason; will accompany him to heaven, but no longer there, because on arrival he will be accompanied by Beatrice. Virigilio was considered a major pagan poet in the Middle Ages, but was Christianized. The Middle Ages interpret Virgil as a figure of the divine message. He never spoke of "untruth and liars" and it is a symbol of human perfection.
Dante hopes that he can now find support to get out of this state.
He is auctor and agent and therefore the master, as the greatest poet who has worked out the qualities of the human soul (he expresses the possibilities of human reason). He is a moral leader and auctor (guide how he acts) but he cannot help him in heaven because he is an unbaptized Gentile and cannot enter there. Beatriz will accompany Dante with charity, faith and hope.

The morning light is the beginning of hope and the rising stars (the astronomical corollaries) were the same visible situation when God began creating the world and life was propitious. Thus Dante recovered by raising his head when the lion (Superb) appeared. The most dangerous is the she-wolf, depicted lean and reduced to skin and bones (greed or immeasurable greed that is not satisfied), but Virgilio heralds her defeat through a veil full of virtues that comes out of the felt that can be understood as under born in modest clothes, or a poor man, or a man professing poverty by a monastic order (Franciscan order) or born in Feltro in Veneto.
Dante has to leave another place because the wolf won't let anyone through and he kills her. (must change course) because his nature is insatiable and evil and growing increasingly hungry (allegory of greed, of possessions).

The events are all pagan and legendary episodes, so there is continuity between pagan and Christian history.

second canto (Watch the animation on Youtube)

Location: hillside
Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

  • Virgil = reason
  • Beatrice = operant or sanctifying grace
  • Virgin Mary = charity
  • St. Lucia = enlightening grace
  • Rachel = contemplative life
  • Forest = darkness, unknown, mystery, fear, origin of man
  • Hill = path to God, hope, fear

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (6)

(Video) Dante's Inferno | Symbols

"I am not like the victorious Aeneas or like St. Paul" (Dante's humility) says Dante. Paul spoke of a mystical ecstasy that led him to God (excess of mind), while Aeneas is the pious man, virtuous as human perfection.
For Dante, life is a linear process and the birth of Christ (the Incarnation) is a fundamental step in life that determines a stage, a starting point and is considered an important historical moment and a guarantee of peace and unity. After the fall of Adam, this is the reunion with the divine after great falls in history (original sin is the first fall that breaks the perfection between God and man) and the Incarnation restores the harmony of grace between man and God with a new fall (Donation from Constantine), which ushers in the secular power of the Church.

At this point Dante hesitates: he wonders why he was chosen if Aeneas is a fairer man than Virgilio described in the Aeneid or as Sao Paulo: Dante is not perfect and asks Virgilio why he is. Then Virgilio, as a father, assures him that Beatrice has turned to God, who sent Saint Lucy to ask Virgil to accompany him on the journey through Hell and to help him break away from his life on the wrong path to free.

third canto (Watch the animation on Youtube)

Location: Hell's Gate, Vestibule
Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

  • Virgil = reason
  • Dante = "Agens" character and "Auctor" author
  • Charon = It is the devil who takes souls to hell

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (9)

The guilt punished here is sloth, negligence, laziness (or faintheartedness). It is for those who did not know how to take a stand in life, for better or for worse, and act in vile ways.

The scheme Dante created is called contrapasso, which is a punishment similar to committed sin, through a process either similar to or opposed to sin itself. Here it is presented for the first time, reflecting sin as if it were a reflex.

The Contrapasso Law (Suffer the opposite)

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (10)

Analogous: The lust overwhelmed by the passion of the senses is punished in hell with a storm.
In contrast, the impudent, who lead a life without charms, are constantly tormented by fly and insect bites.

Dante auctor inflicts severe pain on careless souls, although not yet condemned: that of running incessantly naked after a meaningless sign, tormented by wasp and mosquito stings until they bleed; the blood is eventually collected by creepy worms that move beneath their feet.

It is only the first in a long line of condemnations to be inflicted on souls in Hell - and, as we shall see, also on those of Purgatory, albeit more leniently. The description of the punishment is always very realistic, full of harsh, crude and often disgusting details. The condemnations chosen by Dante as auctor for the sinful souls of the underworld follow a very precise rule which the poet took from the Bible and medieval jurisprudence: it is the so-calledContrapasso law (suffer the opposite), after which the punishments are distributed according to the sins committed in life.

There are two types of double pass:

Contrapass analogue: punishment is similar to sin (for example, as in life their existence was repulsive, for lack of choice that gives meaning to the act of being human, so blood and tears are collected from repulsive worms);

returnon the other hand: the punishment consists in the reversal of the characteristics of sin (e.g., just as they have not followed any ideal in life, so the negligent are now forced to endlessly run naked after a meaningless sign).

Fourth Canto (Watch the animation on Youtube)

Location: 1. Hell's Circle - Limbo Historical and/or mythological locations and episodes mentioned

– Christ's Descent into Hell
– Liberation of the patriarchs and Jews of the Old Testament
– Lucius Junius Brutus inspired the fight againstLucius Tarquinius, Stolz

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

  • Dante "Agens" character and "Auctor" author
  • Virgil: Due to his origin, he will transfer the convict right away
  • Homer, Horace, Ovid, Lucan
  • Mentioned Characters:
  • Electra, Hector, Aeneas, Caesar, Camilla, Penthesilea, Latein, Lavinia, Brutus, Lucrezia, Julia, Marzia, Cornelia, Saladin, Aristotle, Sokrates, Platon, Democritus, Diogenes, Anaxagoras, Thales, Empedokles, Heraklit, Zeno, Dioscorides, Orpheus, Cicero, Linus, Seneca, Euclid, Ptolemy, Hippocrates, Avicenna, Galen, Averroes
    Christ, Abraham, Moses, David, Jacob, Rachel, Adam, Abel, Noah

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (11)

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (12)


Dante awakens from his sleep and finds himself on the other side of Acheron, in Limbo, the first circle of Hell. Virgilio is troubled by being in this circle, but reassures Dante and they keep following, finding souls with spiritual and non-physical punishments because their sin was not knowing Christianity. Among these souls, Dante meets Homer, Ovid, Horace and Lucanus, his greatest poetic models, who lead the two pilgrims to a noble castle, home to great philosophers and important figures.

Introduction to Real Hell; Homage to culture and to Roman origins (poets); Homage to philosophy and classical activity; Homage to pagan culture.

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

  • Four poets: poetic excellence
  • darkness = sin
  • Seven walls: moral virtues (justice, prudence, fortitude, temperance) and intellectual virtues (intelligence, knowledge, wisdom) / liberal arts of the trivium and quadrivium (grammar, rhetoric, dialectic, arithmetic, geometry, music, astronomy) seven parts that form philosophy (physics, metaphysics, ethics, politics, economics, mathematics, dialectics)
  • Castle: philosophy / human nobility
  • Light: human rationality

Timed coordination

God's Friday, probably April 8, 1300, at night

– Disruption issue
– Religionsthema
- Philosophy theme
– Theme of poetry
– Culture in general
– Classical theme
– Reflexionsthema
- Theme of Darkness
– Light theme
Pleasant placetheme

Literary and cultural references
– Iliad
- Bible
– Various myths, sagas, legends

Fifth Canto (See animation on Youtube)

Location 2. Circle of Hell - The Lewd - Loss of reason for desire

  • Emotional involvement
  • Sensual love between Paolo and Francesca
  • The central role of literature in the story of the two lovers
  • Polite ideal on the one hand, religious dimension on the other

Symbols and allegories of meaning

At the entranceMinos= beastly demon, guardian of the underworld

Followed by:

(Video) Why should you read Dante’s “Divine Comedy”? - Sheila Marie Orfano

  • Dante "Agens" character and "Auctor" author
  • Semiramis = Queen of the Assyrians
  • Dido = Queen of Carthage (Aeneid)
  • Cleopatra = Queen of Egypt, mistress of Julius Caesar and Mark Antony
  • Elena, Paride and Achilles = characters from Greek mythology
  • Tristan = famous rider of the Round Table
  • Paulo and Francesca

Timed coordination

The night of April 8, 1300 (God's Friday)

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (16)


Dante reached the II circle of Hell with Virgil, where the group destined for the sin of lust is located. Paolo and Francesca were the first sinners Dante questioned.
Francesca was an aristocratic woman, daughter of Guido da Lopenta. Reading Lancelot, the love between the two blossoms. Her lover who was later killed by her cheating husband. Dante, disturbed by his own feelings, faints and loses his mind. Dante is understanding of Francesca, but also critical insofar as she has acted against religious ideals and moral norms.

Sixth Song (Watch the animation on Youtube)

Location: 3rd Circle of Hell - Greed, Gluttony

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

Cerberus = three-headed dog

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (19)


Here the ravenous souls are laid prostrate, their faces buried in mud, and tormented by incessant rain and the oppression of the group's guardian, the savage Cerberus. He is a demonic character, equipped with three dog heads, who rips and destroys the souls of wolverines with his claws. Virgil manages to keep Cerbero aside by throwing mud on his three heads, allowing Dante and his master to walk through the suffering souls unhindered. A soul rises from the muddy mass and turns to Dante; It is Ciacco, a fellow citizen of the poet, probably condemned because of his greed. Dante questions him about the fate of his city, which is constantly divided by the struggle between Guelfos and Ghibellinos, and Ciacco prophesies the clash between the two factions of the Guelfos, the whites and the blacks, and in the end the supremacy of the blacks. The theme is then political, as is the case in every sixth song of every song of the poem: the condemned describes, with dark and prophetic tones, the way the Florentines “come to the bleeding” (v. 65), which refers to the Alluding to clashes between factions of 1300-1301. Ciacco adds that because of the "three sparks" (v. 75) of arrogance, envy, and avarice, there are almost no meritorious people in the city or anyone else who could change the sad fate of the inner struggle. Dante asks him where to find some famous Florentine figures and Ciacco replies that those (including Farinata and Iacopo Rusticucci) guilty of the most terrible sins live in the deepest circles of Hell. Ciacco returns with his face in the mud after asking Dante to remember him once he returns to the living. Virgil explains to the poet that Ciacco will not lift his face out of the mud and will lie until Judgment Day, after which his sorrow and pain will only increase. The two protagonists walk on souls - as a mark of contempt for them - and continue their journey into the underworld until they reach the doors of the fourth circle, found in Pluto, "the great enemy", the demon of wealth .

Seventh CantoCanto (Watch the animation on Youtube)

Location: 4th Circle of Hell - The hoarders and spendthrifts.

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

Wolf = avarice and desire
Pluto = son of Iasione and Demetra, was the symbol of wealth for the Greeks

(Video) From Inferno to Paradise: Psychological Symbolism in Dante's Divine Comedy


At the entrance to the Fourth Circle, the two poets find Pluto, guardian of this infernal realm. The monster, which looks like a wolf, runs towards them and speaks incomprehensible words, but Virgil assures Dante that Pluto cannot stop them, rebukes the demon and silences it, remembering the defeat that Archangel Lucifer suffered Michael has suffered. At this point, Pluto falls to the ground, dejected, and the two poets are free to continue. The two poets approach the ranks of the greedy and prodigal.
A large crowd of convicts gathers in a tumultuous circle, divided into two lines, the greedy and the prodigal: they push the stones along the circle, contradicting and complaining to each other. Dante observes many men from the church as privileged victims of this vice. Virgil reveals the nature of sin and concludes by affirming the vanity of the riches that happiness brings to man.
The contrapass is not clear, but the metaphor is accurate, characterizing sinners' association with wealth in a manner similar to stone-pushing
Virgil explains that happiness is created by God, given randomly to different people in unpredictable ways and according to God's hidden judgment. His law governs the lives of men and directs the ups and downs of history, for the angelic powers direct and regulate the movements of the heavens. Its changes are very rapid and follow the divine will, and human curses are useless against it.
Dante and Virgil follow the waters of a thermal spring that opens in the vast marble of Stigia: it is the fifth circle of hell in which the irascible plunge and hit each other. Virgilio concludes by saying that earthly goods entrusted to fate are ephemeral and all the gold in the world would not suffice to soothe these tormented souls.

Achter Gesang (Watch the animation on Youtube)

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Location: 5th Circle of Hell - angry and grumpy

The walls of the city of Dite

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

Sentence: They are immersed in the waters of the River Styx and hit each other
Contrapasso: They continue to vent their anger, open or hidden, and gurgle in the filthy and putrid waters of the Styx
Dante meets Phlegias (Guardian of the Circle); Philip Argenti; the demons

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (24)


Still at the 5th Circle of Hell, Flegiàs appears, transporting Dante and Virgilio to the swamp of the river Styx. Meeting with Filippo Argenti. Arrive in the town of Dite. The demons deny the two poets passage.
It's Saturday evening April 9th ​​(or March 26th) from 1300.
On the banks of the river Styx, the second of the infernal rivers encountered so far, after the Acheron, Dante and Virgil reach the foot of a tower from the top of which radiate luminous signs.
These are revealed to be warnings from Flegiàs, the infernal boatswain, who, suppressing his anger, takes the two into his boat. During the navigation, one of the furious convicts punished in the swamp approaches Dante with arrogance: it was the Florentine Filippo Argenti who had hostile relations with Dante, after a brief exchange of insulting jokes, he tries to attack the boat but is taken back from Virgilio into the mud where she is crushed by the other convicts.
Eventually the boat arrives in front of the walls of the city of Dite, reddish with fire, protected by a band of demons who prevent Dante and Virgilio from entering the lower hell. Not even Virgil's words can persuade the demons to bow to the divine will: faced with their hostility and their leader's uneasiness, Dante is appalled, even when Virgil reassures him and announces the arrival of someone who can help him.

Ninth Canto (Watch the animation on Youtube)

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Location: 5th Circle of Hell - angry and grumpy

Entrance gate of the city of Dite

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

Erichtho:Sorceress that Lucan wrote about.
Judaica:the last pit of hell; also Judecca.

Greek and Roman mythology:

Furien: The three terrible female spirits with snake hair (Alecto, Tisiphone and Megaera) who punish the perpetrators of unavenged crimes.
Hydras: water snakes.
Erinja: Furien.
Hectares:A goddess of the moon, earth, and the subterranean realm of the dead, later regarded as the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft.
Meager: One of the Three Furies.
Choose:One of the three Furies.
Tisiphon: One of the Three Furies.
Jellyfish:One of the three Gorgons killed by Perseus, turning mortals to stone if they look at her.
Theseus: The main hero of Attica, son of Aegeus and king of Athens; famous especially for his slaying of the Minotaur; tries to kidnap Hekate.
Whirlpool: One of three sisters with snake hair so horrific that the viewer turns to stone.

Sentence:They are immersed in the waters of the River Styx and hit each other

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (27)

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (30)


Dante's Doubts and Virgil's Explanations. Appearance of the three Furies summoning Medusa. Arrival of the heavenly messenger who overcomes the resistance of the demons and allows the passage of the two poets. Entrance to the city of Dite (VI Circulo). punishment for heretics. It's Saturday evening April 9th ​​(or March 26th) from 1300

In Canto IX it is the divine messenger who reaches the city of Dite to overcome the resistance of the demons, thus allowing the passage of Dante and Virgil, which the demons tried in vain to prevent. His arrival is announced by Virgil at the end of Canto VIII,so that it becomes ter for himra aperta, "that the open land may be mine" (arrogance will not prevail, for the angel has been sent by God and the door will open).
After admonishing the readers to understand the allegory's meaning, Dante describes the messenger's arrival as a hurrying wind that obliterates trees and branches. Crossing the swamp of the Styx River over the dried plants, the messenger lets the condemned flee and takes the thick swamp fumes off their faces. When he arrives at Dite's door, he opens it with the help of a small stick and sharply rebukes the opposing demons who tried against Dante. Then the messenger goes away and the two poets can enter the city unhindered.
The figure has been interpreted in a number of ways, the description given to Dante being very vague: he was of course intended as an angel and was perhaps intended to be the archangel Michael or Gabriel, although some of his settings seem appropriate for a heavenly being, especially when he is traversing the swamp. Others have suggested mythological characters (Perseus killing Medusa, Mercury...), possibly also contemporaries of the poet, but this seems an unlikely hypothesis. It should not be ruled out that the messenger is simply an angel sent by God to overcome the resistance of demons without precise identification.


Tenth Canto(See the animation on Youtube)

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Location: 6th Circle of Hell - The Heretics

Within the city of Dite

Allegorical figures, symbols and meaning:

Josaphat-Tal:Outside of Jerusalem, where it is believed that the Last Judgment will take place.
Epicurus:Greek philosopher. 341-270 BC Founder of the Epicurean school, which held that man's goal should be a life characterized by mental serenity and the enjoyment of moderate pleasures.
Mehl Farinata degli Uberti:famous leader of the Ghibelline party of Florence.
Guido Guido Cavalcanti:poet and friend of Dante; also Farinata's son-in-law.
The Second Frederick:The Emperor Friedrich II.
Cardinal of Ubaldini: A cardinal in Dante's day who was said to be involved in money and politics.


Still in the city of Dite the judgment of the heretics. Meeting with Farinata Degli Uberti, political speech on Florence. Appearance of Cavalcanti by Cavalcanti. Farinata's prophecy about Dante's exile. Virgilio comforts Dante by promising him what Beatrice will explain. The two poets arrive near the VII circle. It's Saturday evening April 9th ​​(or March 26th) from 1300.

Importance of symbolism and allegory in Dante's Inferno of his Divine Comedy (31)

Farinata and Cavalcanti, miniature of the Ferrarese School, Vatican Apostolic Library

Virgil leads Dante between the tombs of the city of Dite and goes around the inside of the walls. Dante is intrigued and asks Virgil if it's possible to see the souls in the tombs since the hinged lids are raised and there are no demons waiting the arks. Virgil replies that the tombs will be closed forever on Judgment Day when the resurrected souls are retrieved from the bodies in the Valley of Iosafat. He also explains that in this type of cemetery are all the followers of Epicurus, who proclaimed the mortality of the soul and promised Dante that he would soon have fulfilled his wish, which he expressed without revealing it, namely to know if there was the soul of Farinata Degli Uberti. Dante justifies himself by saying that if some have hidden a desire from Virgil, it's just a matter of not speaking overtime, something Virgil has accustomed him to himself.

Meeting with Farinata and Cavalcante

Suddenly, a voice is addressed to Dante from one of the tombs, identifying him as a Tuscan and begging him to continue, as his accent suggests he is from his own town.Startled, Dante joins Virgil, who invites him to turn and face Farinata, who has risen from one of the tombs and is visible from the waist up.Dante obeys and sees the condemned man standing with his head and chest held high as if he despises Hell, so Virgil urges him and advises him to speak with dignity.

As soon as Dante reaches Farinata's grave, he asks who his ancestors are.The poet reveals his descendants and Farinata states that Dante's ancestors were bitter enemies of his since it was about his ancestors and his political party (the Gibelin) who were twice taken away from Florence.Dante readily replies that both times when they were hunted they were able to return to the city, while Farinata's ancestors were not.

Cavalcante appears(52-72)

Suddenly, another condemned convict appears next to Farinata, leaning over his chin as if kneeling. The ghost looks terrified and looks for someone next to Dante, but doesn't see them. Finally, crying, he asks Dante where his son is and why he is not accompanying the poet on this journey and if Dante is there because of the magnitude of his talent. Dante immediately understands that it's Cavalcante dei Cavalcanti, his friend Guido's father, and he replies that he's actually not there just for his merits, pointing to Virgil as someone destined to guide him, who maybe would be spurned by the son of Cavalcante. Cavalcante gets up in confusion and asks Dante if his son Guido is really dead: since the poet only reluctantly answers, the damned souls fall back into the grave and never come out.

The sixth circle contains the heretics, those who believed that the body has no soul. Many of them are Epicureans, followers of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher whose philosophy was the attainment of happiness through the absence of pain.
Farinata, along with Cavalcante, belongs to the circle of heretics, also because he and Cavalcante were Epicureans. After the judgment of the papacy and society of Dante, Cavalcante and Farinata followed Epicurean philosophy. The Epicureans believed that there is no soul and that everything dies with the body. They saw the joys of life on earth as the greatest goal for man. Knowing Farinata and Cavalcante as Epicureans, Dante fully expected to find them in this circle of hell.

According to Dante's contrapasso idea, the heretic's punishment is to spend eternity in burning tombs until the Last Judgment, when the tombs will be closed and the souls within sealed in their earthly bodies forever.
Dante consistently uses the act of prophesying as a literary device in Hell. Farinata's prophecy to Dante: "The face of him who reigns in Hell shall not be revived fifty times in its course" or before he learns that offenses are implied in this art, "means that Dante will also experience the pain of exile “.

The other shadow interrupted by Farinata is Cavalcante, another Epicurean, former citizen of Florence and father of Guido, contemporary poet and friend of Dante. When Dante says, "Your Guido felt contempt," it can mean several things. It could mean that Guido, a modern poet, despised Virgilio and all classical poets. Note that Farinata and Cavalcante are unaware of themselves or do not recognize each other. The shadow spirits in Hell are not there to have fellowship or compassion for one another. In the case of Ugolino and Ruggieri in corner XXXIII, they provoke pain rather than comfort
Historically, Farinata was a powerful figure from the previous generation. Dante's family belonged to the Guelphos. As Dante alludes to in this particular canto, Farinata twice led the Ghibellines against the Guelphos and twice defeated them. So he and Dante must be bitter enemies. However, he's not someone Dante hates; Farinata was a person that Dante greatly admired. (A person can respect an enemy even if he opposes him or her).
Farinata's concerns are those of a warrior; every other feeling has no meaning for him. He is a citizen and he asks his name for his home country. Farinata is also a partisan: he first asks Dante about his ancestry. He is also an invincible warrior: he reports defeating his opponents twice. Farinata's fame was his beloved city. The theme of Cavalcante's paternal love intertwined with Farinata's heroic love is effective.
Dante created an image of power, character and strength for Farinata. He describes him in an upright position so that he could only be seen from the waist up. This attitude suggests that she rises above Hell spiritually, creating an image of infinite strength and grandeur.


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(Video) Dante's Inferno | Summary & Analysis


Why is Dante's Divine Comedy an allegory? ›

Allegorically, the poem represents the soul's journey towards God, beginning with the recognition and rejection of sin (Inferno), followed by the penitent Christian life (Purgatorio), which is then followed by the soul's ascent to God (Paradiso).

How was Dantes Inferno an allegory? ›

Dante's Inferno is an allegory or a poem or story with a hidden meaning that is usually religious or political to convey a tale of a soul's journey through sin to salvation. In the poem, Dante and his guide Virgil travel through the nine levels of Hell in order to make it to paradise.

What was important about Dante's The Divine Comedy? ›

The Divine Comedy is a fulcrum in Western history. It brings together literary and theological expression, pagan and Christian, that came before it while also containing the DNA of the modern world to come. It may not hold the meaning of life, but it is Western literature's very own theory of everything.

What does 3 symbolize in Dante's Inferno? ›

The number three also relates to sin. The three main types of sin are incontinence, violence, and fraud. A final example of Dante's use of the number three is the specific lines of poetry Dante used for his epic work. He used a poetic form known as terza rima.

Who or what do you think Dante the character represents in this allegory? ›

Allegorically, Dante's story represents not only his own life but also what Dante the poet perceived to be the universal Christian quest for God. As a result, Dante the character is rooted in the Everyman allegorical tradition: Dante's situation is meant to represent that of the whole human race.

What are the other allegorical interpretations of Dante's journey? ›

The Massive Allegory

So Dante's personal crisis and journey through Hell could represent every man's moment of weakness and his descent into sin. This is apparent from the very beginning. The dark woods and night might symbolize man's sin while the path – which Dante has lost – is the virtuous man's way of life.

What does Dante's journey symbolize? ›

Dante's journey is actually a metaphor for the progress of the human soul. Dante begins by showing us the worst of the worst in Hell—the human race's deepest depravity—and slowly works through the renunciation of sin and the divine-like qualities to which human beings can aspire.

What are the lessons from Dante's The Inferno? ›

The pilgrim Dante begins his journey by entering the “Inferno.” The journey symbolizes taking a hard look at the reality of sin, and taking ownership of your sinfulness. It's painful and difficult, but there can be no spiritual progress without self-knowledge and accountability.

What are two key themes in The Divine Comedy? ›

Main Theme

The subject of the whole work, taken literally, is the condition of souls after death. But if the work is taken allegorically, the subject is man, how by actions of merit or demerit, through freedom of will, he justly deserves to be rewarded or punishment. It is the story of man's pilgrimage to God.

What are the three major themes of The Divine Comedy? ›

In the story, Dante represents the modern-day man going through issues with his life. But in life, salvation, love, and epiphany would always exist. A journey in this context does not only mean the path you take to get to the end goal. We discover what we do not expect: in Dante's case, love, salvation, and epiphany.

What are the three major parts of Divine Comedy? ›

The Divine Comedy is divided into three canticles: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso.

What is the allegorical meaning of Inferno canto 1? ›

The three beasts are allegories of three different sins: the leopard represents lust, the lion pride, and the wolf represents avarice. While Dante goes backward to the forest, he sees a human figure and turns to it for help. Dante, however, cannot distinguish whether it is a man or a shadow.

What does the sun symbolize in Dante's Inferno? ›

In Dante's Inferno, the sun is used as one of the symbols of the story. The sun represents Heaven, as well as God's energy and happiness. When Dante loses his path to Heaven, he knows the way back because the sun shines upon it, but there are beasts in his way.

What does the dark woods symbolize in Dante's Inferno? ›

The dark woods symbolize sinful life on Earth, and the “right road” refers to the virtuous life that leads to God. Read an in-depth analysis of the opening lines of the poem .

What is the main allegory of the Divine Comedy? ›

Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy: Inferno portrays Dante's life and adventure through Hell which allegorically represents a much broader subject: man's journey through life to salvation. The Divine Comedy: Inferno begins when Dante is midway through life and he has lost his way.

Who come to help Dante and what does he symbolize? ›

Virgil, the ghost of a roman poet and also the representation of human reason, appears and wants to help guide Dante through his journey. They must make it through the nine areas of Hell and Purgatory if Dante is to make it into Heaven to be reunited with Beatrice.

What does Virgil symbolize in the Divine Comedy? ›

Virgil displays all of the noble virtues attributed to the perfect Roman. He represents reason and wisdom, making him the perfect guide. As the journey progresses, his treatment of Dante changes, depending on the situation.

What are the two main types of allegory? ›

We can distinguish between two different types of allegory:
  • the historical or political allegory,
  • the allegory of ideas.

Who symbolizes human reason in The Divine Comedy? ›

As mentioned above, Virgil symbolizes human reason in The Divine Comedy, the power and achievements of the human intellect left to its own devices without God, without the redemption offered by Jesus Christ, and without the influence of the Holy Spirit.

Why is Dante's Inferno important today? ›

Dante's depictions of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory have greatly and extensively inspired Western art. Artists of all faiths and creeds have reiterated and reinterpreted the Divine Comedy (composed in the early 1300s) to address contemporary politics, philosophy, society, and artistic principles.

What is Inferno main message? ›

The theme of equilibrium between reason and faith is one of the core messages of Inferno and it is essential in conveying the main idea of the Divine Comedy and of the pilgrim's journey that the exploitation of intellect and the misuse of will is the cause of sin, and that through faith, those who are morally lost find ...

What is the most famous line of Divine Comedy? ›

Before me things create were none, save things Eternal, and eternal I endure. All hope abandon ye who enter here.”

What is the difference between Dante's Inferno and The Divine Comedy? ›

It is a symbolic journey through the medieval concept of Hell; and Dante describes hell as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth. In other words, the Divine Comedy symbolically represents the journey of the soul towards god, with the Inferno describing the recognition and consequence of sin.

What does Inferno symbolize? ›

As an allegory, the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul toward God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin.

What are the themes of Inferno and what do they represent? ›

Sin, Justice, Pity and Piety

As it narrates a journey through hell, Dante's Inferno is essentially a tour of all kinds of different punishments for different sins. It is filled with spectacular, unbelievable, and grotesque punishments, but these punishments are not meant merely to deter others from sinning.

What does the greyhound symbolize in Dante's Inferno? ›

The greyhound (veltro) is the first of several enigmatic prophecies in the poem to a savior figure who will come to redirect the world to the path of truth and virtue (Inf. 1.100-11).

What was the symbolic meaning of the rays of the rising sun? ›

The symbolic meaning of the rays of the rising sun was the beginning of a new era.

What does the sun represent and symbolize in the story all summer in a day? ›

The Sun. The sun, the most important symbol in “All Summer in a Day,” embodies all of nature, and its effects on people demonstrate the inextricable connection between humans and the natural world.

What does the dark forest symbolizes and why? ›

In An Illustrated Encyclopaedia Of Traditional Symbols, JC Cooper writes 'Entering the Dark Forest or the Enchanted Forest is a threshold symbol: the soul entering the perils of the unknown; the realm of death; the secrets of nature, or the spiritual world which man must penetrate to find the meaning.

What do the woods symbolize? ›

Traditionally, the forest has come to represent being lost, exploration and potential danger as well as mystery and 'other worldliness'. There has always been a strong subconscious link with the forest and it is a frequent motif in children's fairy tales.

What might the woods symbolize? ›

'Woods' in the poem stand for the complexities of human life. Life is like a maze. The 'forks' stand for the 'alternatives' or 'options' life provides to reach the destination. What you reap later on in life, depends on the 'options' or the 'ways' you choose during the course of life.

What is Dante's Inferno a metaphor for? ›

As an allegory, the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul toward God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin.

What is the moral lesson of the Divine Comedy? ›

The standard that evil is to be punished and good rewarded is written into the very fabric of the Divine Comedy, and it's a standard Dante uses to measure the deeds of all men, even his own. Moral judgments require courage, because in so judging, a man must hold himself and his own actions to the very same standard.


1. Symbolism and analysis of Dante
(Steve Ward)
2. Intro the the Divine Comedy
(Stephen Coates)
3. Dante's Inferno: An Introduction
(Tim Nance)
4. Dante’s Inferno as an Allegory for the Human Journey through Life
(Varsity Bookworm)
5. Dante's Inferno | Canto 26 Summary & Analysis
(Course Hero)
6. Dante's Inferno | Canto 20 Summary & Analysis
(Course Hero)
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