Analysis Of Dante's Inferno: A Comparison Of Greek

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The Greek’s Inferno: A Comparison of Greek and Catholic Underworlds For nearly 2000 years, various religions continue to perpetuate the idea of an underworld, or a place after death. For the Greeks, much of their mythology deals with Gods, Goddesses, and the afterlife. Catholics, however, base their idea of an afterlife with three levels: Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, a place for people who must experience a purification of sorts. Numerous Greek writers wrote about the idea of their underworld, or Hades, one of the most famous being Homer, writer of The Odyssey. The Odyssey details the hero Odysseus’ journey back to his homeland of Ithaca. In book 11, Odysseus, for the first time in the poem, travels to the underworld on instructions from Circe. …show more content…

The idea of Hell itself in most Judeo-Christian denominations begins with the simple premise of being a place for those who have either sinned or turned his or her back on God, damning them to an eternity of punishment and suffering. A major idea presented in Inferno is the idea of the contrapasso. Justin Steinburg in his essay “Dante’s Justice? A Reapprasial of the Contrapasso” summarizes the idea by explaining it as a balance of crime and punishment in Hell. In canto 28 in the Inferno, the Dante first poses the idea in text when Bertran de Born must carry his own head in his arms after separating father from son. (354-357) Born then says the final line within Canto 28, “Thus is observed in me the counterpoise.” (358) Not all of Dante’s Hell continues the trend of being a place made only for people who have committed grave sin. The reader finds in Canto 4 that many great poets and people that existed prior to the death of Jesus Christ inhabit the first circle. (88-90) Finally, Dante’s phrases his idea of hell in a very interesting way in Canto 3 by saying those in hell have “foregone the good of intellect” (18) The “intellect” itself can be deduced as being God. This version of Hell, however, was born from Dante’s mind after being banished from Florence. Much of the Inferno is written as satire, but the morals it holds still present themselves within the larger Catholic ideology. In Thomas Thayer’s The Origin and History of the Doctrine of Endless Punishment, he conducts a detailed analysis of the Bible’s hell and it’s origins. Thayer states that the word “hell” actually comes from the hebrew word sheol meaning “The place or state of the dead” (44) Not only is the word hell used for the

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