Why does Dante use the number "3" multiple times in "Dante's Inferno"?

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The number 3 is everywhere in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy . For one thing, the poem itself is structured according to the rhyme scheme terza rima, which uses stanzas of three lines that employ interlocking rhymes (aba bcb cdc, etc.). Additionally, there are nine circles of Hell (three multiplied...

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The number 3 is everywhere in Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. For one thing, the poem itself is structured according to the rhyme scheme terza rima, which uses stanzas of three lines that employ interlocking rhymes (aba bcb cdc, etc.). Additionally, there are nine circles of Hell (three multiplied by three), Satan has three faces, and three beasts (a lion, a leopard, and a wolf) threaten Dante at the beginning of the Inferno. There are many more examples of three, but the overall important thing to understand is that the number three largely governs the structure of Dante's poem. Indeed, you can think of the number three as the scaffolding on which the rest of the poem's content is hung. This number is significant because three is a central number in the Judeo-Christian tradition, especially in terms of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). As such, just as the whole of the Christian world is governed by a three-in-one God, Dante's poem is governed by the number three. Thus, Dante's obsession with the number three mirrors the prevalence of three in the Christian tradition. 

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Think in terms of the trinity, and you've got one reason. One of the major mysteries of the Christian faith is how the divinity can be three in one: father, son, and holy spirit. In Satan's three faces, Dante gives us an inverted trinity. Other trios also come from Christian theology. It is not Dante who invented purgatory, which gives a tri-part afterlife, but the larger Christian tradition. Likewise, when he finds himself in the middle of the forest and his life at the start of the poem, he is given a natural triad: the present, the past, and the future.

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