Who would win Spawn or Dante

The nine circles of hell

The nine circles of hell - how Dante imagined the underworld

"The Thinker" was originally intended to be part of a huge sculpture representing the gateway to hell. To do this, Auguste Rodin was based on the motifs from Dante Alighieri's "Divine Comedy". If you can't remember your literature class, we've summarized how Dante imagined hell.

In almost every religion there is the concept that after death, either the eternal kingdom of heaven beckons to man or hell threatens - depending on how well or badly he has led his earthly life. Of course, it cannot be proven whether both locations actually exist. Nevertheless, they have always stimulated people's imagination. The Italian philosopher Dante Alighieri, for example, drew a very lively picture of hell that is still present today in his main work "Divine Comedy". Dante wrote the book for a total of 13 years, from 1307 to 1320, and countless artists from all areas - from literature to music to comics and video games - have since dealt with its content. The sculptor Auguste Rodin also devoted a large part of his artistic life to the "Divine Comedy". His famous "thinker" was only one of 180 figures that made up his monumental sculpture "The Gate of Hell". But what did it look like, the hell that Dante designed in his Commedia?

A dead poet helps

The main character in Dante's "Divine Comedy" is Dante himself, a poet who at the age of 35 has arrived in the middle of his life, but has at the same time strayed from the right path. On the way to the mountain of virtue he wanders through a dark forest and is threatened by wild animals. To his relief, he met the Roman poet Virgil in time. The fact that he has been dead for more than 1,300 years at this time does not irritate Dante - not even that Virgil advises him to take a detour through hell. And so the two men set out for the gate of hell, which Rodin was to create in the form of a sculpture many centuries later.

Funnel-shaped hell

According to Dante's imagination, hell looked like a giant funnel that was created when the fallen angel Lucifer hit the earth with full force. In the southern hemisphere, which in Dante's view of the world was completely covered by water, the Cleansing Mountain arose as a result of Lucifer's impact - the place where the souls that were not directly destined to enter heaven were washed clean. This is where the second part of the "Divine Comedy" takes place, while the third and final section takes Dante to paradise. But first of all, Dante and Virgil have to survive hell.

The deeper, the worse

We have to imagine the funnel like an amphitheater, which consists of a total of ten terraces - the limbo and the nine circles of hell. The deeper it goes into the earth, the smaller the circles and the more brutal the punishments that the "residents" have to suffer. In limbo, for example, wandering around worthless people who are not wanted in heaven or in hell and who are constantly attacked by wasps and hornets. This place is separated from the real hell by the river Acheron. As a living person, Dante is actually not allowed to cross it, but Virgil persuades the ferryman Charon to take over the crossing anyway.

Minos judges

The first circle of hell is limbo, i.e. the area in which all those who are guilty of no guilt have to stew. A little confusing, isn't it? This primarily refers to pagans and children who died before they were baptized. From the second circle onwards, all hell really starts. At the beginning there is the underworld judge Minos, who has become a demon with Dante and sends all newcomers to the appropriate circle of hell. To do this, he wraps his tail around his body; the more turns he makes, the deeper down the sinner has to go. Voluptuous souls, for example, end up in the third circle, stingy souls in the fourth. From the seventh circle onwards, the really bad people can be found: violent criminals, suicides, blasphemers, fraudsters, thieves and traitors. By the way, all circles are filled with all kinds of figures from Greco-Roman mythology and contemporary history. For example, Dante and Virgil meet Odysseus, who was punished for betraying Troy, and Francesca da Rimini. She lived at the same time as Dante and was killed by her husband Giovanni Malatesta because she had a relationship with his brother Paolo.

Even Goethe was impressed

Dante has located the traitors in the ninth and last circle of hell. They are frozen up to their necks in Lake Cocytus and have to eke out their eternal existence in this unfavorable position. One scene in the last circle of hell left a deep impression on none other than Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goethe described the description of what happened to the noble Ugolino della Gherardesca as "the highest thing that poetry has produced". Trapped in the eternal ice, he keeps gnawing at the skull of another man. This turns out to be Archbishop Ruggieri, who had done bad to Ugolino during his lifetime. The cleric had locked the nobleman together with his sons and grandchildren in a tower and let them starve to death there. There, so the interpretation of Dante's verses, Ugolino fed on the bodies of his starved descendants in order to survive for a while.

Up on the fur

Not far from the creepy scenery with Ugolino and Ruggieri, Dante and Virgil finally meet the Prince of Hell himself: Lucifer, who has three faces and is also in the ice. He chews on a traitor with each of his mouths: left and right are Brutus and Cassius, the murderers of Caesar, in the middle the traitors par excellence - Judas. To finally escape hell, Dante and Virgil climb up on Lucifer's skin. Delicately, his genitals represent the exact center of the earth, from there the two hell-wanderers finally come to the foot of the Cleansing Mountain, which they climb in the further course of the "Divine Comedy".