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October 17, 2012
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Dante Alighieri
by anakalivas



Oct 17, 2012 by techgnotic

Sometimes in youth we play crazy mind games. One gruesome game was trying to think of the worst way to die. Or even better, the "which would you choose" version of the same conceit. Another was what would be the worst torture to endure. If there is one international touchstone that best captures youthful fears and wonders in speculation of what lies beyond the veil of death and awaits as possible punishment for our sins, it must be - to the few who have actually read it to the millions who "know" it – "Dante's Inferno." Who does not shiver at the thought of being lost somewhere in the "Nine Rings of Hell?"



Who does not shiver at the thought of being lost somewhere in the "Nine Rings of Hell?"



True nastiness reigns on every single one of the nine levels.


Actually, the nine circles of Hell ("Inferno") are detailed only as the first third of Dante's first great masterpiece of Italian literature, "The Divine Comedy," which leads the reader on through Purgatory and then eventually into Heaven ("Paradiso"). This epic poem was like the first self-help manual, describing the how and why one falls into Hell and how to live a God-fearing life guaranteed to get you into Heaven. But over the centuries, as the fearsome images illustrating this piece mightily attest to, it is the horrors of the Inferno that have remained burned into the fearful collective consciousness of a segment of our society.













There are so many amazing fantastic images described in The Comedy for artists to bring to life:


The three-headed hell-hound Cerberus; the river Styx with its surface a roiling morass of damned souls fighting with each other; the dragon wyvern Geryon with human face, lion paws and stinger in tail. The center of Hell, usually depicted as a place of eternal fire, is in Dante's vision a place of perpetual ice. Satan himself with three his faces (red, black and yellow) and three pairs of wings, remains forever frozen waist deep in the ice.




















There are many misconceptions about Dante's epic prescription for salvation.





One needn't be the ultimate sinner to go to Hell, nor be a saint to go to Heaven.



One needn't be the ultimate sinner to go to Hell, nor be a saint to go to Heaven. Hell, I think according to Dante if you just remember to pray for forgiveness as you lay dying, you start your post-life existence in Purgatory, getting to skip all the tortures of all Hell's nine circles. In Dante's theology, the anchoring basis for all "sin" is disbelief. So if the saintliest of human beings alive on the planet chooses atheism, eternal damnation and hideous torture awaits. If a hitman sincerely prays to God, confessing his sins and swearing his belief in God, Paradise will be his eternal home after a brief detention in Purgatory.


So maybe this is why this is the one narrative, the deliriously frightening epic fairy tale, that remains lurking in the mind's shadows well into adulthood. Dante has proposed to us a cradle to grave gamble. If the Inferno is only a fairy tale, an allegorical warning against disconnection from the divine in life - then the stakes are not so high. But if Dante's vision is somehow "true" and demands belief – well, that's a whole other adult mind game with stakes that could not be higher.







I did as much research as possible with the time allowed. Do we have any scholars out there who might shed an even more educative light on the subject? Has anyone read the Divine Comedy recently? Would love to hear opinions, analysis and corrections from those of you even more familiar with the history of this material than I.











Questionsfor the reader





  1. Does the artistic exploration of theological subjects make you in any way nervous, especially in a time when the very act of depicting one religion's god and messenger can have such great impact?
  2. Does Dante's attempt to match appropriate crimes with appropriate punishments make sense – or does the concept eternal damnation in torment ruin his otherwise equitable distribution of justice?
  3. What are an artist's responsibilities when depicting subjects sacred to some who will be seeing the resulting artwork? Is caring for even a moment about possible repercussions a form of censorship and repression against art and the artist?
  4. Do you think it's fair that remembering to pray at the last moment gets you a Get Out of Hell Free pass?
  5. Are you currently living in one of the nine rings of hell right now? What is happening there?
















Sometimes in youth we play crazy mind games. One gruesome game was trying to think of the worst way to die. Or even better, the “which would you choose” version of the same conceit. Another was what would be the worst torture to endure. If there is one international touchstone that best captures youthful fears and wonders in speculation of what lies beyond the veil of death and awaits as possible punishment for our sins, it must be – to the few who have actually read it to the millions who “know” it – “Dante’s Inferno.” Who does not shiver at the thought of being lost somewhere in the “Nine Rings of Hell?”

Writers: $techgnotic
Designers: $marioluevanos
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:iconmetr0n0me:
Metr0n0me Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014
"One needn't be the ultimate sinner to go to Hell, nor be a saint to go to Heaven. Hell, I think according to Dante if you just remember to pray for forgiveness as you lay dying, you start your post-life existence in Purgatory, getting to skip all the tortures of all Hell's nine circles. In Dante's theology, the anchoring basis for all "sin" is disbelief. So if the saintliest of human beings alive on the planet chooses atheism, eternal damnation and hideous torture awaits. If a hitman sincerely prays to God, confessing his sins and swearing his belief in God, Paradise will be his eternal home after a brief detention in Purgatory.

So maybe this is why this is the one narrative, the deliriously frightening epic fairy tale, that remains lurking in the mind's shadows well into adulthood. Dante has proposed to us a cradle to grave gamble. If the Inferno is only a fairy tale, an allegorical warning against disconnection from the divine in life - then the stakes are not so high. But if Dante's vision is somehow "true" and demands belief – well, that's a whole other adult mind game with stakes that could not be higher."

The shortest summation of Dante's (and the Church's) idea of salvation is what C. S. Lewis penned: that heaven is when we say to God "thy will be done," and hell is when God says to us "thy will be done." Because God is not just another object or good thing in the universe, but the very Being of Being - in which all good things have the quality of being good - to reject God is to, in the final say, to reject all good things. One loses reason; one looses their own ability to act in freedom - because one does not pursue what is good. That is why Pride is the most damning sin. Pride says that all good things must come from the self.

Another way to put it is, Dante is telling us how even the worst of sinners can be saved if they try to order themselves rightly and put all their loves after the love of God - the love of the primal basis of all good things; but however much excellence you may have had before, if you reject that basis of good, you will end up with even the goods you did love spoilt. No one in Hell accepts their guilt, their own disordered love. If they did, they might see how to rightly order their loves, and repent, and then God would extend every mercy to draw them to Himself.

The terror of Hell is the terror of absolute insanity; and it is the terror of confronting the what we are if we try to separate ourselves from all that is good, true, and beautiful.

Reply
:iconbrennryan:
brennryan Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2013
I like how you manipulate the images. And how you put them in once piece of an art. Keep up the good work sir, hoping for more design's from you. - Dennis Wong
Reply
:icons2do54:
S2DO54 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2013
1) I welcome the discussion and admire all the art specially when the concept of God has been so adulterated by the Media and the Lunatic Fringe on the far right.
2) I think Dante perceived the concept of Karma not Hell, but his western educated mind did not allow him to see punishment and reward all experienced in the here and now. The biblical explanation of Hell is eternal separation from God, in a place created not for humans but for devils (aka the lake of fire).
Humans choose to live separated from God and therefore choose to reap Karma accordingly.
3) Art is FREE, the artist only responsibility is to let imagination rule! I often question how in the centuries past it wasn’t blasphemous to depict God the Father as a bare-chested Hippie flying through the air carried by little gay angels.
4) Its not so, it isn’t prayer that gets you out, its True Repentance and only He who can see into the hearts of men can judge who is sincere and who is a politician.
5) Yes I am living in all of the 9 rings of Hell and simultaneously in the 9 Celestial Spheres to Heaven, for I am both reaping what I have sowed and suffering the bullshit others around me are reaping and sowing, Continuously throwing flowers and rocks at each other, ain’t Karma a Bitch!
6) What’s The Worst That Can Happen? It was this question that drew me here. The worst would be that there is no hell that would make Jesus a liar. No salvation, no rewards, no rhyme, reason or purpose… That renders everything and everyone “worthless”. You die and you never existed, what could be worse than to be a meaningless clutter of amino acid devoid of soul and spirit who crawled out of the evolutionary pond’s ass to do shit and die. No recognition, no purpose, no punishment, no reward, no memories, just flushed down the eternal toilet of oblivion… I have intellect not just instinct, I can formulate questions so there must be answers, I posses reason so I must, at one point, give account.
Reply
:icons2do54:
S2DO54 Featured By Owner Feb 5, 2013
1) I welcome the discussion and admire all the art specially when the concept of God has been so adulterated by the Media and the Lunatic Fringe on the far right.
2) I think Dante perceived the concept of Karma not Hell, but his western educated mind did not allow him to see punishment and reward all experienced in the here and now. The biblical explanation of Hell is eternal separation from God, in a place created not for humans but for devils (aka the lake of fire).
Humans choose to live separated from God and therefore choose to reap Karma accordingly.
3) Art is FREE, the artist only responsibility is to let imagination rule! I often question how in the centuries past it wasn’t blasphemous to depict God the Father as a bare-chested Hippie flying through the air carried by little gay angels.
4) Its not so, it isn’t prayer that gets you out, its True Repentance and only He who can see into the hearts of men can judge who is sincere and who is a politician.
5) Yes I am living in all of the 9 rings of Hell and simultaneously in the 9 Celestial Spheres to Heaven, for I am both reaping what I have sowed and suffering the bullshit others around me are reaping and sowing, Continuously throwing flowers and rocks at each other, ain’t Karma a Bitch!
6) What’s The Worst That Can Happen? It was this question that drew me here. The worst would be that there is no hell that would make Jesus a liar. No salvation, no rewards, no rhyme, reason or purpose… That renders everything and everyone “worthless”. You die and you never existed, what could be worse than to be a meaningless clutter of amino acid devoid of soul and spirit who crawled out of the evolutionary pond’s ass to do shit and die. No recognition, no purpose, no punishment, no reward, no memories, just flushed down the eternal toilet of oblivion… I have intellect not just instinct, I can formulate questions so there must be answers, I posses reason so I must, at one point, give account.
Reply
:iconcrimsondenizen:
CrimsonDenizen Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
1. no

2. sure

3. There's a thing called "Artistic Interpretation"

4. That's not how prayer works. You have to be sincere in your talk with God. If you just keep purposely doing something over and over is that feeling of shame really that sincere?

5. No but I got some shit to deal with :p
Reply
:iconbobo564:
bobo564 Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Student General Artist
1. No
2.Yes, yes it does
3.The artist must keep the message. censorship can do more harm if the message does not stay the same
4.Not really
5.Nope
Reply
:iconhuntressray:
HuntressRay Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
1. Does the artistic exploration of theological subjects make you in any way nervous, especially in a time when the very act of depicting one religion's god and messenger can have such great impact?
It actually depends on what I was looking at, be it a deity or a demonic being, I don't know. But then most of the time, such figures tend to fascinate me, namely youkais, spirits, demons, I don't know.

2. Does Dante's attempt to match appropriate crimes with appropriate punishments make sense – or does the concept eternal damnation in torment ruin his otherwise equitable distribution of justice?
I find the punishment for non-believers and etc quite unjust and unfair. It's like just because someone don't believe in a particular religion means that they will definitely be condemned in Hell for all eternity. But then maybe it was also due to my experiences with people who keep going "If you don't believe in God, you'll go to Hell!" or preaching me and saying things like, "I do respect people but not their lies (religion)." and go on with preaching about things in the Bible, I don't know.

Other than that, I do find some of the punishments quite wacky. But then maybe because we are born of different time and thus see things differently?

3. What are an artist's responsibilities when depicting subjects sacred to some who will be seeing the resulting artwork? Is caring for even a moment about possible repercussions a form of censorship and repression against art and the artist?
It actually depends on what one's intending to compose or draw. But of course, there has to be at least some sort of link, be it obvious or obscure, so that the work don't look a bit too "irrelevant" or something. Thinking about things that can offend some people may or may not be a form of censorship or repression, but then it all depends on the society and the artist as well.

4. Do you think it's fair that remembering to pray at the last moment gets you a Get Out of Hell Free pass?
No. Just, no.

5. Are you currently living in one of the nine rings of hell right now? What is happening there?
No, but a personal Hell in my subconsciousness? I suppose so. But then the "Hell" I have in my subconsciousness seem to be more of a "mental dimension" for me to explore and create concepts of its inhabitants and environment rather than anything that appear to be of a literal "Hell of suffering and punishment".
Reply
:iconxxfatpandaxx:
XxfAtPAndAXx Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2012
1. People can do what they want and should be able to freely paint or draw or illustrate anything to their content. As long as anything isn't being pushed on me, I'm fine with it.

2. I do not believe in eternal damnation. It doesn't make sense in my eyes. No one deserves to suffer forever. I remember a quote I read somewhere once saying that "God hates the sin, not the sinner". I'd like to believe that. Plus, I don't really believe that sins are all that bad. Greed could be translated into something like the greed for love. But I don't think that's a sin. The person just feels lonely.

3. I do think the artist has to consider what they're depicting... It is technically censorship if the artist has to think twice about it though and I don't really like censorship. So my stand is that if you're going to depict offensive material, put a warning sign up. Let the possibly offended know beforehand that they may be offended. Then all is well.

4. If there is Hell, I think it should be a place where the sinner feels the pain of those they have sinned. Because all sins will affect someone else either directly or indirectly. And feeling the pain would be just punishment, in my opinion.

5. I'm confused.

I'm not even sure if I actually answered any of these questions. xD
Reply
:icondraygonmew:
DraygonMew Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2012
1: No, people are free to express themselves as they wish, but if they're trying to push their beliefs forcefully onto others, then it's simply annoying.

2: In my opinion, it only seems fair that people are punished in accordance with what they did wrong. Any excessive or unjust punishment seems strangely out of place.

3: I believe that causing an artist to think twice about what they're about to do is a form of brief censorship, but it depends on the artist whether or not to follow their original idea or to alter it. I see their responsibility as being able to express themselves.

4: I believe that it wouldn't exactly be 'fair'. They repent for everything that they did wrong, and I believe that God would have a choice whether or not to accept their prayers. Forgiveness was a trait that I hear often from Christians, but I believe that it's the decision of whoever is in control.

5: In and out.
Reply
:iconynxthelynx:
YnxTheLynx Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
this is one of those great topics that goes on forever since everyone believes a little differently. Hell is one of those "one mans trash is another mans treasure" kind of thing. What scares me won't scare everyone else. Hell is what you make it with your actions and your actions alone. But I don't think people are just sent there because they cuss someone out or told a lie. No ones perfect
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