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Thread: Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven - but not in Dante's Inferno

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven - but not in Dante's Inferno

    Milton's Satan posits that it is "better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven." I was re-reading the Inferno over the past few days and picked up on how many times Virgil wards off threats by claiming that the pilgrim's journey came from up high, and thus he was guaranteed safe passage through the underworld. For those more familiar with Christian mythos than I, or with Dante's text - is there any president for God having sway in Hell? I always thought that Hell was Satan's land and God has no power there. Of course, Jesus barging in uninvited, breaking down the gate and doing some "harrowing" is a whole other matter, but why do the various demons back off as soon as Virgil tells them that they are sent by God?

    Is this just a convenient device for Dante (the poet) to get through this part of the pilgrim's journey, or is there more to it that I am missing?
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darnay View Post
    Milton's Satan posits that it is "better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven." I was re-reading the Inferno over the past few days and picked up on how many times Virgil wards off threats by claiming that the pilgrim's journey came from up high, and thus he was guaranteed safe passage through the underworld. For those more familiar with Christian mythos than I, or with Dante's text - is there any president for God having sway in Hell? I always thought that Hell was Satan's land and God has no power there. Of course, Jesus barging in uninvited, breaking down the gate and doing some "harrowing" is a whole other matter, but why do the various demons back off as soon as Virgil tells them that they are sent by God?

    Is this just a convenient device for Dante (the poet) to get through this part of the pilgrim's journey, or is there more to it that I am missing?

    The precendent is quite simple: Hell is where god sent people to punish them, not another realm. They obey his rule and all. It is his dungeon, not an adversary realm.

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    That's not the way Satan tells it
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Charles Darnay View Post
    That's not the way Satan tells it
    Well, he wouldn't, would he?
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

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    Dante predates Milton and Hell in christianism is more close to Dante than Satan, anyways, Satan is a liar, Milton uses him as politician, not as god. In Judaico-Christiam-Islamic mythos, Hell is also part of God's creation therefore under his rule.

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    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
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    here is how I see this whole Dante Saga.
    "better to reign in Hell than to serve in Heaven."
    This quote is rather misleading neither I nor you nor Dante knows what it is actually to be Hell and wether there is actually a hell. To make such a claim one needs to have some kind of first or second hand on 'reigning in hell' and therefore one is talking out of their excuse the language.
    It is however easier and logical to imagine what it is like to reign in Heaven because it is more realistic and happens on a daily basis.
    To reign is usually a reference to a kign first and foremost and we know more or less what a queen or aking is.
    What one deos not know is evil and hell and the concept of reigning is rather dim and not believable to me.

    is there any president for God having sway in Hell? I always thought that Hell was Satan's land and God has no power there.
    I do not think there is or could be a more powerful being then a god and to suggest that satan actually exists is suggestive that god has less power over this concept of evilness. I am not likely to bite into it for the reason I have stated but that is my choice.
    The contrast of bad and good exists in books/fiction/maybe reality but to then suggest that the same apply in an afterworld is rather misleadind because no one actually knows
    a) wether there is afterworld
    b) there is an underworld
    c) there is evil versus god
    These are all specualtions and are entirely based on fitction because no one can actually prove that evil/satan exists.

    why do the various demons back off as soon as Virgil tells them that they are sent by God?
    Virgil appears as Dante's guide through hell and purgatory.
    I am assuming that what Vrigil says Virgil gets.
    It is not about demons against god it is about the power of Virgil, Dante is trying to say/portray Vrigil as the powerful/more powerful then god.
    Virgil is what sees Dante to all three stages of his voyage if you like so of course Virgil would have the last word and not God.
    Quite a twist but an obvious one.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
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    The quote is from Milton's Paradise Lost, not Dante and it is Lucifer trying to transform the defeat caused by his rebellion into a victory, assuming that his will can transform hell (which is hell) in a plesant victory. He is just lying.

    As Virgil, he is under a mission to take Dante by two circles, and the demons back up because of power given by his mission, not because his own power. Virgil is in fact, powerless and damned to stay in Limbo.

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Fair enough.

    I am well aware that Milton predates Dante, and that his Lucifer is highly politicized, but I thought that political idea of the rebel angel who tired to claim Hell as his own predated Milton - apparently not.
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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    No, the idea does predate Milton, but it is not "highly official", as the representation of Lucifer/Satan/Devil is not very official either, in constant modficiation (for example, neither Dante or Milton's Devil seems to care about buying souls) due the popular culture.

    For Dante, the devil is more a icon of Hell, something to be in the "scenary" than an active characters (it is more Virgil and himself). For Milton, Satan is a full character, active to face the main characters (Jesus, God, etc). So, he is more active, also representing some of Milton views on politicians as Satan is extremelly charming. His rebellion have also some of Prometheus, but the thing, is Satan motives are wrong, while Prometheus are fair.

    But in Dante, the devil is just the evil, but never someone with power to rule anything without god consent (in milton' too, Satan rebelion is in the end part of God's providence), the main difference is a bit of what Dante shows in hell (a path of elightment, as it is the only way to reach Heaven) if compared to the rethoric game of Milton.

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    In the fog Charles Darnay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    No, the idea does predate Milton, but it is not "highly official", as the representation of Lucifer/Satan/Devil is not very official either, in constant modficiation (for example, neither Dante or Milton's Devil seems to care about buying souls) due the popular culture.

    For Dante, the devil is more a icon of Hell, something to be in the "scenary" than an active characters (it is more Virgil and himself). For Milton, Satan is a full character, active to face the main characters (Jesus, God, etc). So, he is more active, also representing some of Milton views on politicians as Satan is extremelly charming. His rebellion have also some of Prometheus, but the thing, is Satan motives are wrong, while Prometheus are fair.

    But in Dante, the devil is just the evil, but never someone with power to rule anything without god consent (in milton' too, Satan rebelion is in the end part of God's providence), the main difference is a bit of what Dante shows in hell (a path of elightment, as it is the only way to reach Heaven) if compared to the rethoric game of Milton.
    I can agree with that. Thanks
    I wrote a poem on a leaf and it blew away...

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