Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.
Dante’s Inferno is the first book of The Divine Comedy, an epic poem illustrating the journey of the soul toward spiritual enlightenment. After losing his way in dark woods filled with beasts, Dante encounters the ghost of the Roman poet Virgil, who promises to guide Dante back onto his path.
In the first leg of Dante's journey, he passes through the Gates of Hell and slowly traverses each of its concentric circles, encountering various monsters, historical figures, and perversions of humankind along the way. As he plummets deeper and deeper through the Circles of Hell, the horrors and depravity he witnesses force him to question his true nature.
Everyone experiences wanton temptation, earthly desires, and unsavory thoughts from time to time. Some might even lean into their evil impulses and sell their souls to the Devil outright. It’s only human. Don’t lie to yourself - you are not above wicked thoughts. It’s time to reckon with your own essence, as Dante did, and ask yourself: Which Circle of Hell awaits you?
The First Circle, Limbo, is populated by non-Christian adults, certain Pagans, and unbaptized infants. Those who were virtuous but not God-fearing live in the noble castle with seven high walls that represent the Seven Virtues.
Limbo isn't Hell so much as Mediocre Heaven, a reflection of what could have been. The great thinkers and classical poets of antiquity live in Limbo, notably Aristotle, Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan.
Winding up in Limbo isn't always one's own doing. Maybe you weren't baptized or didn't grow up religious. Or maybe you keep lying to Grandma about going to church every Sunday.
In the Second Circle, lie the libidinous and lustful. These poor souls whip back and forth in the merciless winds of an unending storm, an eternal powerlessness that exemplifies their inability to resist carnal temptation. As he traverses the Second Circle, Dante meets Cleopatra, Achilles, Helen of Troy, and other historic adulterers and players.
When you stay up late feverishly swiping through Tinder, these same winds of lustful abandon are engulfing you. If you aren’t careful, you might end up wallowing lasciviously in this Circle of Hell for all eternity.
Floating atop the river Styx, those punished for anger are separated into two groups. The wrathful - who expressed their anger - are in a constant state of conflict on top of the water. The sullen - who repressed their anger - struggle fretfully below the surface. Dis, the wall that separates Upper Hell and Lower Hell, stands between the Fifth Circle and the Sixth.
Here in the Fifth, Dante has a fortuitous meeting with his enemy, Filippo Argenti, and the wrathful aftermath of their encounter makes Dante reconsider his own nature.
Whether you beef with your fists or with passive-aggressive Facebook statuses, it's going to end the same way: you, in this Circle of Hell, forever.
In the first ring of Lower Hell lie the heretics and the sinners, banished to flaming tombs. Those who went against political and social norms, such as witches and usurers, are damned to the Sixth Circle of Hell. Dante meets several popes and emperors here, as well as the Greek philosopher Epicurus.
Heretics possess hyperopia, the supernatural ability to see the future. But it comes at a cost; as the future events draw closer, their memory of the vision fades. They can see the infinite expanse of their eternal suffering but are powerless to stop it.
When you try to solve your personal issues by spending $60 on healing crystals from Etsy, you might be engaging in heretic behavior of your own. And you know what that means: a one-way ticket to the Sixth Circle of Hell.