World Lit. 10-6
15 February 2012
Dante’s Inferno Research: The Fifth Circle
In Dante’s Inferno, there are nine levels of Hell which are distinguished based upon the specific sin of a mortal being. In the Inferno, the fifth circle is the realm where the wrathful and the sullen sinners reside. “Wrath and sullenness are basically two forms of a single sin: anger that is expressed (wrath) and anger that is repressed (sullenness)” (danteworlds.com). These sinners are the beings who chose a vengeful path in order to get back at those that they envied or felt wronged by. As punishment “the sinners of wrath will constantly try to rip each other’s throats out as they fight in the mud” (shmoop.com). As for the sullen sinners they “are forced to recite hymns while submerged in this mud [Marsh of Styx] so that their words come out only as gurgles” (shmoop.com). These punishments are ironically fitting in relevance to the sins which these inhabitants have committed. The idea of contrapasso explains that “punishments must arise from the crime itself, not from the damage it has caused” (wordnik.com). The punishment of the wrathful fits contrapasso because while the sinners were alive, they were always trying to get their revenge on somebody else. As punishment, they will spend eternity in hell experiencing pain from other sinners whom will always be trying to seek revenge on each other. The punishment of the sullen fits contrapasso because they were “resentfully silent” in life, so as punishment they must recite hymns and struggle to sing them beneath the mud remaining unheard eternally (shmoop.com).
When Dante investigates the Fifth Circle, he recognizes a familiar face—one he despises. The man Dante sees is someone who knew Dante in his lifetime. This man’s name is Filippo Argenti. Filippo was a violent and arrogant political enemy of Dante whose family had opposed a movement to allow Dante to return from exile (freewebs.com). Filippo...