Dante's Inferno: Contrapasso

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Expect No Mercy

What goes around comes around. When sinners reach hell they are forced to experience the counter-suffering of contrapasso. For each sin, Dante gives a specific punishment relating to that sin. Some of these sins include violence towards self, violence towards God, sorcery, and hypocrisy. For the despicable lives they lived on earth, they are doomed to suffer relating consequences for all of eternity.

“No green leaves, but rather black in color, no smooth branches, but twisted and entangled, no fruit, but thorns of poison bloomed instead.” (XIII, 4) No longer humans, but trees, they stand in a fruitless wood, being eaten by half-woman, half-bird creatures called Harpies. These sinners have committed Violence against themselves. They destroyed their bodies on earth so they have been denied any resemblance to a body in hell. Harpies are perched on them, eating their leaves as they scream in pain. When leaves or branches are ripped from them, they bleed and feel as though limbs are being torn from their bodies. Their wounds heal so as to reoccur, making it so the harpies may eat them eternally. This is not a reasonable form of justice, as once thought in Dante’s time. The Christian church has changed its opinions on suicide since the publishing of Dante’s work. Once not even awarded a Christian burial, people who commit suicide are now considered not in the right state of mind. Since they have suffered in life, they should not be forced to suffer for eternity in death.

Despite the undeserving sufferers previously noted, many of the people found in hell deserve to be there. The blasphemers have committed the sin of violence against God. They have either cursed God or offended God directly during their lifetimes. These sinners lay on their backs in burning sand staring up at the skies as fiery flakes rain down on them. They committed sins against God, therefore they shall spend...
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