Dante’s 9 Circles Of Hell: A Visitors Guide

On June 18, 2014 by Tim Newman

9 Circles Of Hell

With the world’s economy sinking into a pit of despair, a lot of people are having to change their holiday plans. Australia, the Maldives, Gwent, they’re all way off budget.

So, I thought I’d write this informative guide to hell, incase you were planning on visiting any of its nine circles this season. Sure, it doesn’t have the lush green vistas of Corby or Worthing, but its temperatures are balmy all year long.

The circles themselves were first discussed in full by Dante in the 14th-century; he covered them at length in the first part of his epic poem, Divine Comedy. Dante was lucky enough to be guided through the wonders of the evil rings by Virgil, the Roman poet.

As for the sort of clothing you’ll need to take, that’s a bit tricky – you’re likely to encounter icy rain and fire, so take along all options, including some sturdy footwear. Remember, these notes are just a guide. The author is not responsible if you slip into a lake of fire and burn your new hat.

1st Circle – Limbo

9 Circles Of Hell - limbo

Your trip will start off relatively easily; the first circle is called Limbo. This is a place inhabited by people who weren’t tooooo bad, but didn’t believe in Jesus or get baptised. It sounds alright to be honest, there are green fields and a castle. Not very hell-like at all. If I were you, I’d take the opportunity to have a picnic now, it gets significantly less lush the further down you go.

Whilst in the first circle, Dante met some of its more famous occupants, including Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, so you’ll have good company.

The circles from here on in are dedicated to people who have purposefully been naughty. That’s when things get a bit less holiday-like. But stay on the path and within earshot of your guide and you should be fine…

2nd Circle – Lust

9 Circles Of Hell - lust

In the poem, Dante condemns the residents of the second circle as “carnal malefactors,” which has a pretty natty sound to it, and yes, of course there’s a death metal song called Carnal Malefactors.

The people down here in the 2nd circle are buffeted by high winds constantly. Day and night. No respite and absolutely no hope of it letting up. Cleopatra and Helen of Troy chill out down here.

3rd Circle – Gluttony

9 Circles Of Hell - gluttony

Cerebrus, the “great worm” guards the 3rd circle. He has a fairly strict door policy and can be a bit of a nuisance. Take Virgil’s lead and fill his three mouths with mud, that should ensure you get through.

Once again, this isn’t a spot to hang around in for too long. The 3rd circle endures constant storms and the residents are forced to lie in the filthy slush produced by the ceaseless icy rains.

These gluttonous men and women lie next to each other but are blind, never even knowing their neighbours are next to them; this symbolises the selfishness of indulging in gluttony and other addictions. On the plus side, it’s nice and quiet.

4th Circle – Greed

9 Circles Of Hell - greed

Greed is your fourth stop on the journey through hell. When they say “greed” they mean material greed and selfishness. There are two distinct groups down here, those that held on to possessions selfishly, including a lot of clergymen, popes and cardinals; and second, those that squandered goods.

The two sets of sinners are forced to joust each other continuously. This sounds like a gay old time, but they are only allowed to use incredibly heavy weapons that they push around with their chests, and they can never stop. Buzz killer.

The groups are so immersed in their battling that they have lost all sense of themselves. So although there might not be much chat go on during your stay, there will be constant sporting entertainment. And that’s at no extra cost. Beat that Sky Sports.

5th Circle – Anger

9 Circles Of Hell - anger

So we’re on the river Styx for the fifth circle, call it a cruise, if you like. Here we encounter angry people fighting on the surface of the waterway and sulky people lying gurgling beneath the surface.

I’ve heard the water is particularly tempting during September and October, so maybe plan your trip for then, and if you do take a dip, try not to interfere with the sullen souls, they’ve got enough to deal with. Thanks. And, if you see Medusa (she visits occasionally), whatever you do, don’t look at her, she hates that.

6th Circle – Heresy

9 Circles Of Hell - heresy

From here on in, once we’ve crossed the river Styx ,we are into the inner circles. These are situated within the walls of Dis which is surrounded by the Stygian marsh. Here you’ll find some wonderful wading birds if you come at the right time of year. I saw a little egret and a couple of herons last September.

As for the occupants of the sixth circle, they are guilty of willfully disbelieving the scriptures and their teachings. As punishment, they are constantly enshrined in burning tombs for eternity. Fair enough.

Seventh circle on the next page…


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