Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Mapping Dante's Inferno

Dante's vision of Hell consists of nine concentric circles. These circles represent ever increasing levels of wickedness. Sinners in Dante's Inferno are forced to live for eternity in the circle which best fits their Earthly sins. The outside circle is Limbo, where the unbaptized and virtuous pagans are forced to reside. The ninth circle of hell is reserved for those who are guilty of treachery against their friends, families or loved ones.

This Inferno is described in Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. Almost since the Inferno was first published in the 14th Century people have been attempting to map his vision of hell. One of the first maps of Dante's Inferno was created by Antonio Manetti. You can view an interactive version of his 'Section, Plan and Dimensions of Dante’s Inferno' at Cornell University Library - Digital Collections.

Manetti's schematic provides both a plan and a sectional view of Hell. It also provides the dimensions of each of the nine concentric circles.

A new interactive map Topography of Dante Alighieri's Inferno provides a more pictorial sectional view of Dante's vision of Hell. If you zoom in on this map of the Inferno you can learn more about the sinners in each circle of hell and the eternal punishments which they must endure.

For example - if you zoom in on the third circle (Gluttony) you will discover that here the gluttonous are punished by being forced to lie in "a nauseating slush under an incessant rain, while Cerberus barks above them". In the ninth circle (Treachery) those who have been treacherous to relatives are "buried up to their necks in ice".

The Topography of Dante Alighieri's Inferno is in Italian. However if you view the map in Chrome then Google's 'translate this page' option does a good job of translating the important sins and punishments into English.

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