Descent Into Hell

Currently reading Dante’s The Divine Comedy and the protagonist is now plunging into the depths of hell. This is the second third fourth book I’ve read this month where the chapters are extremely short. I’ve found it motivating and I end up reading more by quickly reading through one chapter (and thought) right into the next.

Before I started reading, I was wondering how long it would take for the author to get to his first idea, ie. hell. I guess I have read some other books in the past year where it seems like a lot of words are wasted (read: my time) before finally getting to an interesting passage. So, the conciseness is appreciated. Also, nearly mandatory due to complexities in the grammar of the translation.

Final thoughts about the text so far. I was not aware that this saying

ABANDON ALL HOPE, YOU THAT ENTER HERE.

~ Dante

was from The Divine Comedy. Also, I am unable to remember where I first encountered this phrase. Was it in a movie, a video game, or…?

It is also interesting to see how Dante has divided up humanity into groups not worthy of heaven based on various sins, or lack of faith! So far this passage has been the most profound of the first half a dozen chapters I’ve read, and so I will close with a few thoughts on it.

The good Master [Virgil] said to me: “You do not demand to know who these spirits are that you see. I want you to learn, before you go further, that they had no sin, yet, though they have worth, it is not sufficient, because they were not baptised, and baptism is the gateway to the faith that you believe in. Since they lived before Christianity, they did not worship God correctly, and I myself am one of them. For this defect, and no other fault, we are lost, and we are tormented only in that without hope we live in desire.”

When I heard this, great sadness gripped my heart, because I knew of people of great value who must be suspended in that Limbo.

~ Dante

Ouch! Here we have one possible explanation for the eternal status of those who came before the life and times of Jesus Christs. I was wholly unprepared to grapple with the passage above, and have been haunted by it ever since reading it a few hours ago. I am really enjoying this book and can’t wait to get back to it later in the evening.

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