SEVENTH CIRCLE OF HELL
circle houses the violent.
Its entry is guarded by the Minotaur, and it is divided into three rings:
housing the violent against people and property,
who are immersed in Phlegethon, a river of boiling blood, to a level
commensurate with their sins. The Centaurs, commanded by Chiron, patrol
the ring. The centaur Nessus guides the poets along Phlegethon and across
a ford in the river. (Canto XII)
In this ring are the suicides, who are transformed
into gnarled thorny bushes and trees. They are torn at by the Harpies.
Unique among the dead, the suicides will not be bodily resurrected after
the final judgment, having given their bodies away through suicide.
Instead they will maintain their bushy form, with their own corpses
hanging from the limbs. Dante breaks a twig off of one of the bushes
and hears the tale of Pier delle Vigne, who committed suicide after
falling out of favor with Emperor Frederick II.
The other residents of this ring are the profligates, who destroyed
their lives by destroying the means by which life is sustained (i.e.
money and property). They are perpetually chased by ferocious dogs through
the thorny undergrowth. (Canto XIII) The trees are a metaphor; in life
the only way of the relief of suffering was through pain (i.e. suicide)
and in Hell, the only form of relief of the suffering is through pain
(breaking of the limbs to bleed).
The violent against God (blasphemers), the violent
against nature (sodomites), and the violent against art (usurers), all
reside in a desert of flaming sand with fiery flakes raining from the
sky. The blasphemers lie on the sand, the usurers sit, and the sodomites
wander about in groups. Dante converses with two Florentine sodomites
from different groups: Brunetto Latini, a poet; and Iacopo Rusticucci,
a politician. (Cantos XIV through XVI) Those punished here for usury
include Florentines Catello di Rosso Gianfigliazzi, Ciappo Ubriachi,
and Giovanni di Buiamonte, and Paduans Reginaldo degli Scrovegni and
Vitaliano di Iacopo Vitaliani.
The Divine Comedy - Inferno