View Full Version : Crusader in Limbo ?

09-18-2014, 11:25 AM

So I'm not a Dante expert. I read part of the books and had some summaries on it.
I watched the new movie "as above so below" last week. It is full of Dante.
As far as I am right now I managed to find like 90% of the Plot in Dante and matched
the fitting scenes. However this only works if the first Ring of Hell the limbo is
at that exact location.

For those who haven't seen the film: It's about an archaeologist who searches for the philosophers stone
in the Paris Catacombes. As they decend the meet famous scenes from Dante till they reach the final

Now in the first Circle ( where I think it is ) they find the tomb of Nicholas Flames, the man
who made the Philosophers stone and who set up that treasure hunt and all the traps.
They find him laying on a stone wearing a uniform with a big red cross on it, like
the crusaders had.

Now that makes me think. I know Dante is full of that question whether it was right to act like that in
the holy land and that the priests promised them that what they do is right but neither was
Flamel a Crusader nor do they belong into limbo.

The author of that story seemed to have quite some knowledge about Dante. Otherwise he would
have set up things like being buried head down in the 8th circle and so on. So I guess he
had Flamel wear that for a specific reason.

Too bad I played that videogames about Dante. That gave me some wrong ideas about the background story. So I have
to ask you about that. Could you imagine a reason why a Crusader might be in limbo ? Some criticism against
what they did ? Cause usually there are people who did everything well and never broke a law but just lived before
Christ and thus never had a chance to convert to Christianity. That was Middle Age's Believe, seeing that from
a different perspective I'd say, that the crusaders are less Christs that those who never converted to it.
They didn't know any better but they acted and sinned in the name of god and hoped that that would just be enough to
deliver them from their sins.

May this be the answer here ? Is there any scence in Dante where something like that is mentioned ?

10-09-2014, 12:59 PM
I don't think most "non-scholars" (myself included) can call themselves Dante experts, so you're in good company. That being said, I have spent much time over the past 4 or 5 years reading and researching all things Dante. I do not recall (haven't gone back to check yet) any crusaders being in Limbo in the poem. The "outer vestibules" of hell are reserved for those who never chose in life to accept or deny God, whereas crusaders arguably have dedicated themselves to God's service (whether or not their actions are misguided is another subject). Remember, Christian crusaders historically killed Muslims in the name of reclaiming the holy land. According to Dante's Catholic theology (which he structures the entire Divine Comedy world-view around) crusaders would have been just in the eyes of God (again, I am not personally promoting that idea, just explaining Dante's belief system). What's interesting to note about Dante is that, while on the surface appearing to be religiously adherent to the point of racism and homophobia (as some have accused him), it seems more like he is playing a clever game, whereby he punishes people according to the strict interpretation of religious dogma, but simultaneously elevates them forever by showing them respect and honor for their achievements, which (it seems) is how he intended them to truly be remembered through his work. It is as if Dante has found a technical loop hole that allows him to explore people who his religion viewed as pagans, heathens and sinners without getting himself excommunicated. (He had already been exiled for life from his beloved Florence because of the pope, so you can't blame him for not wanting to get kicked out of the church too!)

I will have to check out that movie you mentioned. Is is currently in theaters or out for rental? The director's modern interpretation of Inferno could be reflecting his own beliefs rather than Dante's. Perhaps in the director's mind the crusades were wrong (I would agree), but the crusaders, though misguided, had good intentions. Therefore the would be placed in Limbo where no punishment of pain is dealt, just the punishment of eternal separation from God (which is bad enough!) I can't say for sure till I see the movie.

You should definitely read The Divine Comedy for yourself, or at least The Inferno (1st of 3 parts: Hell, Purgatory, Heaven). Get the John Ciardi translation, it is very insightful and easy to read for the first time reader. Good summaries / footnotes without feeling like you're reading an academic essay. That's what I started with, and it's still my go-to English translation.

03-16-2015, 05:01 PM
Hi! I was just wondering if you could list some of the books you have read that are written by Dante scholars

03-27-2015, 01:45 PM
I think Dante meant to talk about Crusading.