David Bruce:“Dante’s Inferno: The Law of Contrapasso”

“Dante’s Inferno: The Law of Contrapasso” By David Bruce

Introduction

Dante’s Infernois noted for following the law of contrapassoor divine retribution. God created the Inferno to punish unrepentant, sinful souls, and He made each punishment appropriate for the sin being punished. In the Inferno, the sins and punishments grow worse the deeper the sinners go. Earlier, the sins and punishments are lighter. The Inferno is divided into various sections. Following Limbo, the sins of incontinence (lack of self-control) are punished, followed by the sins of Heretics. Next, the sins of violence are punished, and finally, and worse of all, the sins of fraud — first simple fraud, then complex fraud — are punished.

The Vestibule of Hell: The Uncommitted

Interestingly, the punishments begin even before the Inferno proper is entered. Outside Hell proper in the Vestibule are the souls of those who never took a stand in life. While living, they were neither for good nor for evil, and now that they are dead, neither Heaven nor Hell wants them. In life, these uncommitted souls did not follow a banner; in death, they follow a banner endlessly, running after it as it travels here and here, never remaining in one place. In life, these uncommitted souls did not take a stand, and so here the banner they follow never stands still and never has a firm position. Similarly, in life, these uncommitted souls never staked out a firm position. In life, these souls never felt deeply, either for good or for evil. Now, these souls do feel deeply, as insects bite them. This punishment is fitting. What these souls avoided doing in life, they now do in death. In addition, these souls did no lasting good or harm on Earth, and they will not be remembered on Earth. In the Inferno, Dante mentions none of them by name.

Charon, the Ferryman

Past the Vestibule of the Inferno is a guard of the Inferno: Charon, the ferryman. He ferries the souls of the dead across the river Acheron into Hell proper. Charon is a mythological figure who performs this same duty in Greek and Roman mythology.

Limbo: The Unbaptized and the Virtuous Pagans

Across the river Acheron is the first Circle. Here are punished the virtuous pagans. However, in the first Circle are no shrieks but only sighs. The virtuous pagans are not tortured and do not suffer physical pain; however, they must exist without the hope of seeing God. These souls did not recognize God, so God does not recognize them. Interestingly, pagans can get into Paradise, as we read later in Dante’s Paradise. Both Trajan and Ripheus are in Paradise. Unfortunately, the pagans in Circle 1, or Limbo, neither baptized nor worshipped “God the way one should” (IV.38). As we know from Christ’s Harrowing of Hell (IV.52-63), it is possible to be born before the birth of Christ yet deserve Paradise.

Minos: The Guard of the Lustful

Past Limbo is a guard of the Inferno. Minos was a renowned king of Crete, and he was known especially for his justice. Here he is a beast with a tail, but he retains his sense of justice. Souls confess their sins to Minos, who then wraps his tail around himself. The number of times that Minos wraps his tail around himself indicates to which Circle a sinner shall be sent. For example, if Minos wraps his tail around himself twice, the sinner shall be sent to the second Circle of Hell.

The Incontinent: The Lustful

The second Circle of Hell is the first of the four Circles that are dedicated to punishing the incontinent — those who were unable to control themselves. In this second Circle are punished those who are guilty of the sin of lust. These sinners could not control their lustful desires, which drove them to do things they should not have done, and in the second Circle they are unable to control themselves, for a storm blows them here and there, but always around in a circle. In this Circle we find Francesca and Paolo, who wanted to be together — adulterously — in life. Now they will be together — eternally — in death.

Cerberus: The Guard of the Gluttons

The next — the third — Circle of Hell punishes the Gluttons, whose guard is Cerberus, the three-headed dog of mythology. Cerberus is a fitting guard of the Gluttons because he is a Glutton himself — having three heads also means having three mouths to feed. When Aeneas visits the Underworld, his guide the Cumaean Sibyl quiets Cerberus by giving him honey-cakes to eat. In Dante’s Inferno, Dante the Pilgrim’s guide, Virgil, also quiets Cerberus by giving him something to eat — in this case, Virgil throws gobs of mud down Cerberus’ three throats.

The Incontinent: The Gluttons

Mud is plentiful in the third Circle of the Inferno because rain is always falling. The Gluttons wanted to enjoy the good things, but now they are forced to live in uncomfortable surroundings — surroundings much like a muddy pigsty. The Gluttons made pigs of themselves while living, and now, although they are dead, they live like pigs. Dante the Pilgrim speaks briefly with a Florentine Glutton named Ciacco — a nickname that means “pig” or “hog.” After their brief conversation, Ciacco lies down and goes to sleep in a stupor in the mud, just like a Glutton would go to sleep in a stupor after enjoying a huge meal.

Plutus: The Guard of the Wasters and the Hoarders

After leaving Ciacco, Dante the Pilgrim and his guide Virgil travel to the fourth Circle of the Inferno, which is guarded by Plutus, the god of wealth. In the Inferno, Plutus is described as a wolf, leading credence to the idea that the she-wolf of Canto 1 may symbolize the sins of incontinence and thus the other two animals described in Canto 1 symbolize the sins of violence and of fraud.

The Incontinent: The Wasters and the Hoarders

As the god of wealth, Plutus is an appropriate guard for the Wasters and the Hoarders, who were incontinent when it came to managing money. The Wasters are Spendthrifts, who spent every penny they could, saving nothing for emergencies. The Hoarders are Misers, who saved every penny they could, spending little even to make themselves comfortable. These two opposed groups are condemned to roll great weights at each other. Each group sets off in an opposing direction around the Circle, and then they meet and crash the weights together, one group crying “Why hoard?” (VII.30) and the other group crying “Why waste?” (VII.30). Then they roll the weights back and meet again on the other side of the Circle. These two groups were opposed to each other in life; now they are eternally opposed to each other in death. In addition, Dante does not recognize any of the souls here. These souls were undiscerning in life — they did not know what true wealth is. Now, in death the souls are unable to be discerned by the living Dante. (He does recognize that some of the souls were monks by their haircuts, but he does not know their names.)

The Incontinent: The Wrathful and the Sullen (or Slothful)

The next group of the incontinent — found in Circle 5 — are the Wrathful and the Sullen (or Slothful). The Wrathful can be found in a marsh, and they attack each other, biting and scratching and head-butting each other. They are not able to control their anger. Buried in the swamp, their presence noted only by bubbles rising to the top of the water, are the Sullen (or Slothful). Translator Mark Musa believes that the Slothful are found here. In Purgatory, one of the sins purged is Sloth, so it would be unlikely that no Slothful are found in the Inferno. Others believe that these sinners are the Sullen. Either way, these sinners cannot control themselves. The Sullen should have been happy, and the Slothful should have been vigorous. Like all of the incontinent sinners, these sinners have failed to achieve a mean between extremes.

Phlegyas: The Guard of the Wrathful and Sullen (or Slothful)

The guard of the Wrathful and Sullen (or Slothful) is Phlegyas, who also ferries Dante the Pilgrim and Virgil across the River Styx, in which souls of the Wrathful — such as Filippo Argenti — swim. Phlegyas is an appropriate guard of the Wrathful because of the great wrath he felt while he was alive. After the god Apollo raped his daughter, Phlegyas set fire to a temple of Apollo. The pagan gods are not benevolent, and Apollo killed Phlegyas because of his action. In the Inferno, Phlegyas is still “seething in his anger” (VIII.24). Phlegyas would also be an appropriate guard of the Slothful because he took action. The Wrathful are punished in part by being allowed to exercise their wrath. Filippo Argenti becomes so angry that he bites himself. We also read that the other wrathful souls shout, “Get Filippo Argenti!” (InfernoVIII.61); Dante writes that “I saw the wretch so mangled / by a gang of muddy souls that, to this day, / I thank my Lord and praise Him for that sight” (VIII.58-60).

The City of Dis and the Guards of the Heretics

Guarding Circle 6, where Arch-Heretics and their lesser counterparts are punished, is the City of Dis, where reside the mythological figures of Medusa and the Furies and the angels who rebelled with Lucifer against God. Heresy is an interesting sin that does not fit with the pagan classification of sins in the Inferno. Heresy is not a sin of incontinence, of violence, or of fraud. Heresy is incorrect thinking about God. Medusa and the Furies are appropriate guards of this Circle because they are pagan figures, and to a Catholic Christian such as Dante, pagans do not think correctly about God. Of course, the rebelling angels are also appropriate guards of this Circle because they did not think correctly about God, as they chose to fight against Him rather than fight against Lucifer. However, we should note that these guards employ themselves in trying to keep good people out of the City of Dis; the heretics themselves are not locked in their tombs but seem to stay in them willingly.

The Heretics

The Heretics whom Dante meets are those who did not believe in life after death. Their punishment is to get exactly what they thought they would get after death: a tomb. The souls of the Heretics are placed in open tombs filled with fire. After the Last Judgment, the souls of the Heretics will be reunited with their bodies and the tops of the tombs will be closed forever. In addition, the vision of the Heretics was faulty on Earth, since they believed in incorrect things. In the Inferno, the vision of all the sinners is faulty. They can see the future, but they cannot see the present; thus, Cavalcante does not know whether his son is still alive. After the Last Judgment, the Heretics will have no future and so they will know nothing. Farinata tells Dante the Pilgrim that “all our knowledge / will be completely dead at that time when / the door to future things is closed forever” (X.106-108). Mark Musa writes, “The door of the future will be closed (108) and their remembrance of the past will fade away, since there will no longer be any past, present, or future” (Inferno166).

The Final Three Circles

Following the punishment of the Heretics, we see the punishments given to the sinners who commit the worst sins of all. In the final three Circles of the Inferno, the sins punished are those of violence (Circle 7), simple fraud (Circle 8) and complex fraud (Circle 9). These sins have many different forms, and several cantos will be devoted to each Circle.

Circle 7: The Violent

Circle 7 punishes three categories of the violent: those who are violent against other people, those who are violent against themselves, and those who are violent against God. The main guard here is the Minotaur, who was violent. The Minotaur is the half-human, half-bull offspring of Pasiphaë, the wife of King Minos of Crete, who is the judge of the damned. The Minotaur was violent in that he feasted on the flesh of Athenian young people who were put into the labyrinth with him. Here, as elsewhere, we see a bestial guard. Possibly, Dante is making the point that sin is bestial in nature. Certainly, flesh-eating beasts can be violent.

The Geography of Circle 7

Three sections make up the geography of Circle 7. First, we see a river of blood, where the Violent who physically harmed others are punished. Second, we see a gloomy wood where the Suicides are punished. Finally, we see a scorching desert where the Blasphemers, Sodomites, and Greedy Moneylenders are punished.

The Centaurs: Guards of the Violent Who Physically Harmed Other People

The guards of the Violent who physically harmed other people are the Centaurs. The mythological Centaurs were often violent. In Thessaly, the Centaurs were invited to a wedding, but grew drunk and tried to rape the women guests. Pholus, one of the Centaurs (now a guard in the Inferno), tried to rape the bride. Another Centaur, Nessus, who is also a guard, seized Hercules’ second wife, Dejanira. Hercules killed Nessus, but before Nessus died, he told Dejanira to soak a shirt with his blood, and if she ever doubted Hercules’ fidelity to her, to have him wear that shirt. When Dejanira later gave Hercules the shirt to wear, the blood of the Centaur burned his skin so painfully that he committed suicide. Not all of the Centaurs are violent — Chiron (the leader of the guards) was the noted tutor of Achilles — but enough are that they are appropriate guards of the violent who physically harmed others.

The Violent Who Physically Harmed Other People

These violent people are punished by being immersed in a boiling river of blood. Because these violent people caused the blood of other people to flow, now they are immersed in blood. Each sinner is appointed a certain level to be immersed in the river; the more blood the sinner caused to flow on earth, the lower they must stay in the river. Centaurs shoot arrows at sinners who try to rise above their appointed level in the river.

The Violent Who Harmed Themselves: The Suicides

After leaving the boiling river of blood, Dante and Virgil arrive at a gloomy wood where the Suicides are punished. The Suicides, in fact, are the grubby shrubs of the wood. They can communicate only where a twig or branch is broken, then they use the resulting hole as a mouth until the blood congeals. This punishment is appropriate because by killing themselves, the Suicides gave up the privilege of self-determination. As shrubs, the Suicides have no free will because plants have no free will. This is appropriate because in life the Suicides rejected free will by committing suicide. As grubby shrubs, the Suicides cannot move around and cannot even speak unless someone breaks off a twig or branch. At the Last Judgment, the Suicides will be given back their bodies, but because they rejected their bodies when they were alive, the bodies will hang from the branches of the shrubs.

The Harpies: The Guards of the Suicides

Guarding the Suicides are the Harpies, who are half-bird and half-woman. Violence is a bestial sin, and this is reflected in the Harpies, who feast on the leaves of the shrubs and so allow the Suicides to complain about their pain.

The Profligate Spenders

Perhaps surprisingly, we see Profligate Spenders among the Suicides. These Profligate Spenders are not among the Spendthrifts who are incontinent because these Profligate Spenders were violent in their spending and because after these Profligate Spenders wasted their wealth, they deliberately courted death by going into battle and hoping to be killed. Black dogs attack these “Suicides” as violently as these “Suicides” wasted their wealth.

The Violent Against God or God’s Gifts

Next we see the scorching desert where the Blasphemers, Sodomites, and Greedy Moneylenders (Usurers) are punished. All of these sinners have committed sins in which they are violent against God or God’s gifts. All of these sinners have committed sins in which they either take something that should be fertile and make it infertile or take something that should be infertile and make it fertile. These sinners are on a sandy plain on which fire rains down and on which nothing can grow.

The Violent Against God or God’s Gifts: The Blasphemers

The Blasphemers ought to love God, but they curse God instead. The love of God ought to be fertile and result in good things, but the Blasphemers curse something that ought to be regarded as valuable. They lie in the sandy desert and face upward, looking toward that which they cursed. They take something that ought to be fertile and make it infertile.

The Violent Against God or God’s Gifts: The Greedy Moneylenders

In contrast to the Blasphemers, the Greedy Moneylenders (Usurers) take something that ought to be infertile and make it fertile. The definition of usury has changed over time, but originally, as in the Bible, it meant lending money at interest. The Bible is against lending money at interest to relatives or to poor people, although Jews are allowed to lend money at interest to non-Jews; thus, Jews became moneylenders in the Middle Ages. In modern times, usury is charging an unethically high rate of interest. (The owners of modern check-cashing places and the CEOs of many credit-card companies in America may end up in the Inferno.) Because the Greedy Moneylenders have been taking something that ought to be infertile and making it fertile, they are in this burning plain with fire raining down on them. Here they are bent over, just like the Greedy Moneylenders of Dante’s time who bent over their tables and counted their money. Hanging from their necks are moneybags. Dante cannot recognize any of the Greedy Moneylenders by looking at their faces; they were so preoccupied with making money that they have lost their individuality.

The Violent Against God or God’s Gifts: The Sodomites

In contrast to the Greedy Moneylenders, the Sodomites take something that ought to be fertile and make it infertile. Instead of having sex with women and raising families with children, the Sodomites had sex with other men, a form of sex from which no children can result. Thus, they are punished in this infertile field. They continually run, perhaps because they continually ran after men when they were alive.

Circles 8 and 9

Following the Circle of the Inferno dedicated to punishing the violent, Virgil and Dante travel to the two remaining Circles of the Inferno: the Circles dedicated to punishing those who have committed fraud. Circle 8 is devoted to punishing those who have committed simple fraud, while Circle 9 — the lowest Circle of the Inferno — is dedicated to those who have committed complex fraud (fraud to which is added treachery toward those to whom we have a special obligation to be honest and forthright).

Geryon: Guard of the Circles that Punish Sinners Guilty of Fraud

The guard of the Circles dedicated to punishing fraud is Geryon, a creature with the face of an honest man, the body of a beast or combinations of beasts, and a stinging tail like that of a scorpion. Geryon is an appropriate guard because he embodies fraud. His honest face encourages people to trust him, while he hides his tail that will sting his victim.

The Malebolge (Evil Pockets)

As Dante and Virgil travel down to Circle 8 on the back of Geryon, Dante is able to see a bird’s-eye view of the malebolge (or evil pockets) that make up the Circle. In all, the Circle contains 10 pockets or ditches in which many kinds of sins are punished.

The First Bolgia: Seducers and Panderers (Guards: Horned Devils)

In the first bolgia are punished Seducers and Panderers. These sinners walk in lines past each other, showing that their sins are related. (Both sins involve unethical sex.) Here we see the first horned devils of the Inferno. These devils whip any sinner who is slow; they also insult the sinners. These sinners caused others to feel pain in the living world; now they feel pain themselves.

The Second Bolgia: The Flatterers

In the second bolgia are punished Flatterers. This bolgia is filled with human excrement, and the excrement coats the Flatterers. In the living world, insincere flattery — or crap — came from the mouths of the Flatterers, so in the Inferno they are covered with crap. Thais the whore is punished here, forming a connection with the previous bolgia, which punished some sinners whose sins had a connection with sex.

The Third Bolgia: The Simonists

In the third bolgia are punished Simonists (who sell church offices for money), including several popes. The Simonists are upside down in holes resembling baptismal fonts, and flames dance on their feet. Several things are going on here. First, the sinners are upside down because they placed things upside down in the living world — they placed material things before spiritual things, thus upsetting their proper order. Second, when Dante speaks with Pope Nicholas III, he is like a confessor by the side of an assassin who is soon to be buried alive upside down — Nicholas III will be pushed deeper into the hole when Pope Boniface VIII arrives in a few years. Third, we see a parody of Pentecost, when flames danced on the heads of the followers of Jesus. Finally, we see a parody of baptism, when water should be splashed on the head of the person being baptized. One thing to note in Canto 19 is that Dante the Pilgrim is in full agreement with Dante the Poet that these sinners richly deserve their punishment.

The Fourth Bolgia: The Fortune-Tellers and Sorcerers

In the fourth bolgia are punished the Fortune-Tellers and Sorcerers, who tried to look too far into the future. Because of this, their heads have been twisted around so that they always look backwards for their eternal, very appropriate punishment. They weep, and as they weep, their tears flow down between their butt cheeks. These sinners do not have guards.

The Fifth Bolgia: The Barraters or Grafters (Guards: Winged Devils)

In the fifth bolgia are punished those who engaged in graft. These sinners allowed themselves to be bribed. Their punishment is to be submerged in boiling pitch and tormented by winged devils. These winged guards attempt to find a Grafter who is sticking his back out of the boiling pitch to ease his pain. The guards use their pitchforks to fish the Grafter out of the boiling pitch, then torment them with their pitchforks.

The Sixth Bolgia: The Hypocrites

In the sixth bolgia are punished the Hypocrites. The Hypocrites wanted to appear golden on the outside although on the inside they were made of base metal, so for eternity they appropriately wear heavy cloaks that are gold on the outside but lead on the inside.

The Sixth Bolgia: Caiaphas, Annas, and Council Members

Caiaphas, the High Priest of the Jews, allowed Jesus to be crucified although he believed him to be innocent. Caiaphas’ father-in-law, Annas, delivered Jesus to Caiaphas for judgment. Members of the council also thought it best that Jesus be crucified.

These people are Hypocrites and Evil Counselors. They are Hypocrites because they thought that Jesus was innocent yet allowed him to be crucified. Thus, it is fitting both that they be crucified and that they bear the weight of the Hypocrites who walk on them.

The Seventh Bolgia: The Thieves (Guard: Cacus)

In the seventh bolgia are punished the Thieves. In the living world, the Thieves appropriated things that belonged to other people, and in this bolgia the only thing they have — their identity — is appropriated by other Thieves. In the seventh bolgia are many, many snakes, which turn out to be other Thieves. When a snake bites or wraps itself around a Thief, one of three things can happen: 1) the Thief can be consumed by fire and reduced to ashes, then be refashioned into his own form again, 2) the Thief and the snake can unite into one body, or 3) the Thief can become a snake as the snake becomes a Thief.

Thieves create a lot of uncertainty. You may think that you have something, but you come home after work and you discover that someone has stolen that thing. In a neighborhood where Thieves constantly prey, you can never be sure that something you own will stay in your possession. Similarly, the Thieves are never sure what will happen when a snake bites a Thief.

The guard here is Cacus, a Centaur who once stole cattle from Hercules.

The Eighth Bolgia: The Evil Deceivers

In the eighth bolgia are punished the Evil Deceivers. They are enclosed in flame for eternity, and their souls cannot be seen. Just as they kept their true motives and thoughts hidden from other people, so are their souls hidden for eternity. One Evil Deceiver is Ulysses/Odysseus, who fiercely desired fame; part of his contrapassois to have his identity hidden. However, the name of the sin punished in this bolgia is controversial. It may well be that the sin punished here is Misuse of Great Abilities. In Dante’s Inferno, Ulysses/Odysseus misused his great abilities while he was alive.

The Ninth Bolgia: Those Who Caused Divisions

In the ninth bolgia are punished those who caused divisions, whether within religions or within politics or within families. Therefore, a devil punishes the Schismatics by using a sword to slit their bodies in various ways. Dante believed that Mahomet and Ali, the founders of Islam, caused a schism within the church by having Islam break away from Christianity; therefore, they are among the Schismatics. Punished here is Mosca dei Lamberti, who contributed to the development of the Guelf and the Ghibelline factions in Florence. Bertran de Born caused a son to rebel against his father; therefore, his punishment is to have his head chopped off, a punishment he calls “the perfect contrapasso” (XXVIII.142). These sinners slowly heal as they walk around the Circle. They are fully healed by the time they reach the devil, who slits them again.

The Tenth Bolgia: The Falsifiers (Alchemists, Impersonators, Counterfeiters, and Liars)

In the tenth and final bolgia are those who are Falsifiers of various kinds. These sinners are punished with various illnesses, including insanity. This may reflect the idea that sin is a kind of illness or disease. Various kinds of falsification are punished with various kinds of illness. The Alchemists have leprosy (the Alchemists tried to change lead into gold, and now their skin turns from healthy to diseased), the Impersonators are insane (the Impersonators made other people confused about who the Impersonators were; now the Impersonators, who are insane, are confused about who they are), the Counterfeiters — who made what they had bigger than it should be — have dropsy (which makes part of their body swell up and be bigger than it should be), and the Liars — whose testimony stank — are feverous and stink.

The Giants: Guards of the Ninth Circle

Following the Malebolge Dante and Virgil, his guide, come to the guards of the ninth and deepest Circle of the Inferno. These guards are giants who rebelled against God, except for one giant, Antaeus. Because of this, he is not chained, as are the other giants. This reminds us that sinning is a free-will choice; we can either choose to do evil or choose not to do evil. However, Antaeus is guilty of other sins, such as using human skulls as building materials; Hercules eventually killed him. The giant Nimrod built the Tower of Babel, and in the Inferno he babbles. Briareus rebelled against the Olympian deities.

The Four Rings of the Ninth Circle

The Ninth Circle is divided into four rings. Each ring punishes one kind of traitor: traitors against kin/family, traitors against government, traitors against guests, and traitors against God. The traitors are punished by being frozen in ice, perhaps reflecting the idea that being a traitor is a sin committed in cold blood. In addition, the traitors were engaged in actively betraying others, so now they are condemned to perpetual inactivity.

The Names of the First Three Rings of the Ninth Circle

In the first ring, Caina, named after Cain, who slew Abel, are punished those who were treacherous against kin/family. They are frozen “in ice / up to where a person’s shame appears” (XXXII.34-35). This means that they are buried up to their necks; shame appears with a blush in a person’s face. However, in this Circle we will see some traitors who are completely buried under the ice. In the second ring, Antenora, which is named after a Trojan who betrayed his city, are punished those who were treacherous against their countries or political parties. In the third ring, Tolomea, which is named after Ptolemy, a captain of Jericho who murdered his father-in-law and his father-in-law’s two sons after inviting them to a feast, are punished those who were treacherous against guests and hosts.

The Fourth and Final Ring of the Ninth Circle

The bottom of the Inferno is reserved for the worst sins of all. In this fourth and final ring of the ninth and final Circle of the Inferno, Judecca, which is named after the apostle who betrayed Christ, are punished those who were treacherous against their benefactors, and especially God. Lucifer, the angel who led the rebellion against God, is punished here by being buried in the ice. He has one head, but three faces, and three mouths. In each mouth, he chews a great sinner. In the middle mouth is Judas, and in the other mouths are Brutus and Cassius, who betrayed Julius Caesar and thus postponed the coming into being of the Roman Empire, which Dante felt was desired by God. Lucifer chews on these great sinners in a parody of the Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist.

Conclusion: The Punishment Fits the Sin

Throughout Dante’s Inferno, we have seen Dante’s use of contrapasso, or divine retribution. Dante makes the punishment fit the sin, and sinners usually get one of two things. Sometimes, they get exactly what they wanted or thought they would get, as in the case of the lustful, who wanted to be with the person they lusted after or in the case of the Heretics, who thought that they would end up in a tomb forever. Sometimes, they get exactly the opposite of what they wanted, as in the case of those who never took a stand in life, but are punished by having forever to run after a banner. No matter what the punishment, God has chosen it carefully. God does not make mistakes, and these sinners get the punishment they deserve.

Works Cited

Dante. Inferno. Trans. Mark Musa. New York: Penguin, 1984. Print.

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