Dante Alighieri

Start Your Free Trial

Dante “built” his version of Hell utilizing equal measures of Roman Catholic doctrine and his own personal perspective regarding the guilt or sins of the people he put there (and his personal...

Dante “built” his version of Hell utilizing equal measures of Roman Catholic doctrine and his own personal perspective regarding the guilt or sins of the people he put there (and his personal perspective was sometimes rather vindictive).  Pick one character who seems to be in Hell for reasons the Catholic Church of that time would approve, and one who seems to be there simply because Dante was “getting even.” How does the poem illustrate this?

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write9,953 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

In writing The Divine Comedy, Dante wanted to settle a number of scores with his political enemies as well as make wider theological and metaphysical points. A prime example comes in the shape of Pope Boniface VIII, who is presented by Dante as Public Enemy Number One. The fact that Boniface was actually still alive during the period when the Comedy is set gives you some idea as to how much Dante hated him. Dante's absolutely certain that the Pope is going straight to Hell, and not before long.

When Dante comes across another less than saintly Pope, Nicholas III, the stricken pontiff assumes that the great poet is Boniface, sent down to Hell before his time. As with the rest of the damned, Nicholas can see the future, and so this episode reinforces Dante's conviction that Boniface's greed, ambition, and corruption have bought him a one-way ticket to Hell.

As for Nicholas himself, he's been consigned to Hell for the serious sin of simony, the buying and selling of church offices. During the...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 683 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now


check Approved by eNotes Editorial

vanertc eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write100 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, Social Sciences, and History