The Illiad In Dante's Inferno

The Iliad in Danteís Inferno

Dante makes many references to Homer and the Iliad throughout the Inferno. The fates of favorite characters are described during the course of Danteís travels. Beginning with his vision of Homer in Limbo, continuing through increasingly gory levels of Hell until Dante reaches the eighth bolgia where he meets Ulysses who is engulfed in fire. Danteís infatuation with the Iliad is clearly illustrated in his Divine Comedy.

Dante introduces Homer early in the Inferno. After the writer passes the gates of Hell and safely crosses the Acheron he is in the most comfortable section of Hell. Homer, along with other virtuous pagans(those who were not enlightened by Christís appearance on earth) and unbaptised children are there. Homer is spending eternity with philosophers, poets, and writers. The first circle has light and a sense of comfort, two things it doesnít share with any other level of Hell. The only torture Homer has to endure is the lack of hope for salvation.

Danteís next stop (after his confrontation with Minos) is the second circle where the carnal are relegated. In this circle he meets three main players in Homerís Iliad, Paris, Achilles, and Helen. All of the inhabitants of this circle are swept up like leaves in a storm, denied the light and reason of God they are eternally dammed to ride the hurricane like winds around the second circle.

Much later in his journey Dante meets the man who conceived the Trojan Horse. Ulysses is in the eighth bolgia among his fellow evil counselors. He is is entrapped in a tongue of flame with his partner in crime, Diomede. The flame comes from one source but is spilt in two, the split symbolizes the falling-out that must come in a partnership based in evil. Ulysses is placed in this circle for many reasons. During the Trojan war he gave birth to the deadly idea that the Achains build infamous Trojan Horse. He also caused the death of Deidamia, Achilles lover when he talked Achilles into leaving her to go to Troy. A third reason for Ulysses banishment deep in Hell is his theft of the statue of Pallas from the Palladium.

Danteís Inferno encompasses a broad range of literary and political subjects. The references to the Iliad are a small fraction of the composition, but they give the reader a solid base of well known characters so they can better understand the how and why behind Danteís placement of the personalities in the various levels of Hell.

Category: English