Dante’s ‘Inferno’. The first part of his legendary three-part poetry saga ‘The Divine Comedy’, is an epic collection of similes interspersed with a plethora of historical figures and geographical references. If not for the accompanying notes, this reader would have been lost and confused. Even now, like the days of high school and algebra tests, I am quite sure that the background information given in the commentary has been all but forgotten post perusal.
In short, it’s huge. Dante and his guardian Virgil guide the reader from the Dark Forest down through the 9 circles and multiple valleys of hell, encountering historical persons who’ve sinned politically or carnally, against God, family or society in general. Each of these damned souls holds their unique place and punishment on the dramatic journey; they pause only to respond to Dante’s relentless and morbid curiosity and Virgil’s obliging persuasions in getting the enquiries satisfied. The picture painted by Dante and the eternally condemned is dark, gothic and often disturbing. Hell is pretty rough, and Satan even more so, though not as fearsome as this reader expected.
Religiously motivated and most certainly of it’s time and location, ‘Inferno’ still ages well and serves as a vehicle for Dante’s opinion on living a life of purity and devotion to God and virtue.