How or why is Dante sympathetic to some sinners and not others?

Dante is far more sympathetic to sinners who have committed smaller sins, like being ignorant of God or rejecting Church doctrine. He sympathizes with these people because although they did sin, they did not harm others in the process. Upon reaching the dwellings of those who committed fraud or violence, Dante feels little to no sympathy and judges the sinners. Virgil reminds Dante that only God can judge, and Dante should not imperil his soul by judging the other sinners. 

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Dante Alighieri (1265-1321) is an Italian poet who modeled The Divine Comedy after Virgil’s Aeneid in the form of an epic poem. It is separated into three distinct parts: the Inferno, or Hell, which is reserved for those who must suffer eternal damnation because they died in sin; the Purgatorio, which is the place those who have repented their sins must wait before entry into Heaven; and Paradiso, the place enjoyed by those whose souls are pure and free from sin.

The author Dante is a religious man who believes that to enter Heaven a human being must understand the nature of sin. His epic poem represents a man’s journey to Hell in order to gain that understanding. The protagonist making the journey is aptly named Dante, but represents humankind. Readers are cognizant that the character Dante and the author Dante are different. They can still recognize that the author’s beliefs are infused into his fictional hero and protagonist.

The epic hero is guided through the Inferno by the Roman poet...

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