View Full Version : Dante's Inferno

09-16-2005, 09:26 PM
I just finished watching a special on the history channel about Hell, it talked some about the effects of Dante on thoughts on Hell. I remember reading the Inferno in high school and having my world literally rocked by it. I was for a few days sleepless because of it. The 9 levels and how each was run and how you end up at each was amazing. I find this work now to be utterly intriguing. What do you all think about it? :flare:

09-17-2005, 11:16 AM
The Divine Comedy is an amazing book; I'm actually reading it right now. I really like it, especially because I am of Italian descent. I had read the Inferno before, but I really wanted to find out what happened to Dante next, so I'm planning to finish the Purgatorio and the Paradasio. It's a very powerful piece of literature. The part that affected me most was the man in the 9th circle of Hell who in his lifetime, was a political prisioner locked up in a tower with his family and left to starve to death, and he ended up having to eat his children. It was horrifying, and it really touched me because I can't even imagine how horrible it would be to have to turn to cannibalism with your own family. I also liked Dante's combining the Roman myths of old with Christian symbols and characters. It's hard to read at times because sometimes the material is unfamiliar (the Italian politics and people of Dante's time, etc.), but it's definitely worth it.

09-17-2005, 12:17 PM
Having read Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy a few times, I continue to find it one of the most beautiful pieces of literature ever written. Though I declare his Purgatorio more fascinating than any of the stages, Inferno, I agree, sounded downright disturbing and unsettling. During my first read of it, in high school, we studied Inferno nearly simultaneously with Jonathan Edwards' short story, "Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God," which seemed a shocking combination, followed by a few nightmares. :p
Going through the nine stages, and through the stages of Purgatorio and Paradiso, I loved how Dante encorporated now historical figures, and where he may have thought they "belonged," due to their actions in life. I often enjoyed the irony of some figures, as in limbo, when Dante and Virgil, his guide, meet many of the classic Greek and Roman poets and sages; his depiction of them really interested me, as well as that of Virgil.
If neither of you have seen it, I recommend looking into Gustave Doré's illustrations for The Divine Comedy. Doré also made many sketches and paintings for other famous writers, like Edgar Allan Poe, Herman Melville, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, but his drawings for Dante look especially incredible.

09-17-2005, 04:58 PM
:eek2: every time I see how popular Dante is I can't help being amazed...

I sort of enjoyed the Inferno and the beginning of Purgatorio, at least for the ideas... but then it drags on and on repeating the same concepts again and again... to understand a line you have to read 2 pages of comments... and the more it goes on the more it becomes cryptical... (not that I've read every single part of it but it's one of the few things that put me to sleep...)

How is it to read it in English??? Is the language hard? And the concepts? Though I guess you need a lot of readings about the historical background...

09-17-2005, 08:43 PM
How is it to read it in English??? Is the language hard? And the concepts? Though I guess you need a lot of readings about the historical background...
Through my first read, I had a very difficult time understanding it, but it seemed easier with repeated reads, also considering that I know very little of Italy's history.
When translated into English, the difficulty of reading it really depends on the translator, and, if any, the footnotes provided by him/her. When I first read it, in high school, the translation read fairly well, and it had a lot of footnotes, but years later, I stumbled upon Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's translation - a better translation than any I have encountered, with many footnotes added by the publisher and editor. With those, of course, I still could not read Dante necessarily easily, but the footnotes provided a lot of help. :nod:

09-19-2005, 04:31 PM
I'd like to read Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's translation. The one I read in high school was really difficult and not that great according to my teacher (all that was available though).

09-28-2005, 10:22 PM
I also would like to read this version. Before reading it in high school we went through some Italian history. During this class we actually read Machavelli's The Prince also. I found that harder to read than Dante.

09-29-2005, 02:39 AM
I thought the last stage (?) of the inferno was incredibly great. How it wasn't fire that engulfed the most ruthless of sinners... instead it was ice. Dante's depictions were really impressive. :)

02-24-2007, 02:41 PM
I think that the Nine Circles of hell are fascinating, however, may be untrue. Something about the art of it is just, overpowering. Like "The Thinker" the sculpture sitting on top of the "The Gates of Hell & Adam and Eve" by, Auguste Rodin, is just amazing if you tie it in to Dante's Inferno. Also, has anyone read "The Tenth Circle" by Jodi Picoult? It ties into the Divine Comedies, its a good read.