Inferno is dreadfully beautiful. It is intricately complex with specific details that overwhelm its readers. As a requirement for me to read this for school, reading it at first was mandatory, but as I went over the pages, it was Dante I could read and gradually I read it without haste or the need to read, but rather the want. Although I read a translated version of it, I could still feel what Dante wanted to deliver, and it was effective.
First, it is dreadful in ways that only a poet like Dante could imagine. In his version of hell, each type of sin corresponds to a specific punishment, which Dante describes vividly and poetically. For example, he “punished” the sinners in Canto 20 or the false soothsayers by having their heads turned backward, so they look on a backward path because they wanted to see ahead. There are more creative punishments than the previously mentioned one, but the fact that there is an allegory to every punishment is not only dreadful but also amazing. What’s more dreadful is that Dante arranged his own version of hell in a way that shows how the most immoral suffer in the tightest of spaces with the harshest of tortures. Types of sinners are arranged in this order, from the upper hell to the lower hell: the non-Christians, the non-baptized, the lustful, the gluttonous, the hoarders and spendthrifts, the wrathful and slothful, the heretics, the violent, the fraudulent, and the traitors. For Dante, the traitors are the most immoral of them all, specifically those who betray their lords, guests, country, and kindred. I find his interpretation of immorality more or less accurate though, because he basically arranged them with incontinence as the first, violence as the second, and fraud as the third, which was most probably inspired from Aristotle himself.
Next, it is beautiful as an allegorical poem. As an enthusiast of poems, I find Dante’s Inferno worthy of encore such that he devised his masterful piece as a terza rima full of poetic devices, such as rhyme, diction, structure, and other technical means. What fascinates me more though is the allegories that hide beneath the surface of this literature, which are portrayed by the use of figurative languages. For instance, Dante has to go through the bottom before reaching the top simply because man must understand humility before he can show his face to God. Other examples include the dark wood as the worldly life of sin, or the beasts that appear in the first canto that represent fraud, pride, and greed.
Perhaps the only flaw I could point out was how Dante biased Greek characters, especially heroes, and put them in various circles of hell, though I see where this is coming from. He’s an Italian (originating from the Romans) anyway, and an avid fan of Virgil as well.
I am very much aware that this review will never be enough to praise how Dante was such a good writer, and a big influence too to the community even until now. Nevertheless, it joys me to see that his works are still living in the modern age.