The Punishment Suits the Crime
In the Inferno, Dante takes us on a journey through Hell. Dante describes
the sins and the punishment in great detail. He puts the severity of the sins
in a particular order, where the further one goes down, the more severe the sin.
The order that Dante puts the sins in are: incontinence, violence, fraud, and
betrayal. This paper will discuss two groups of sins, incontinence and fraud,
and how severe the punishment for each sin is determined. In particular, it
will compare the sin of gluttony in the third circle and divining in the fourth
pouch of the eight circle.
The first group of sins are the incontinent sins. These are located in
the second through fifth rings. These sins are primarily concerned with sins of
the body. These sins also show a lack of restraint.
The sin of gluttony is found among the incontinent sins. Gluttony, by
definition, is excess, such as food and drink, for example. God has given us
all that we need on Earth, but that doesn’t mean that we are supposed to have
excessive gratification. When Dante and Virgil enter the third Circle where the
gluttons are found, Dante acknowledges that it is “a realm of cold and heavy
rain-a dark, accursed torrent eternally poured with changeless measure and
nature” (Inferno, p. 45). The harsh and endless rain may be connected to the
sin of gluttony. Since these sinners experienced excess on Earth, then they too
are punished with an excess of rain in Hell. Dante also notices that “the soil
they drench gives off a putrid odor” (Inferno, p. 45). The punishment of
wallowing filth may also be connected to the sin of gluttony. Since they
indulged in filth on Earth, then they shall wallow in filth for all eternity in
Hell. The gluttons are also tortured by the three-headed dog Cerberus, the
mythological guardian of Hell.
Dante meets a sinner named Ciacco while in this third circle. He says to
Dante, “Your city, so full of envy that the sack spills over. The name I took
among you citizens was Ciacco; the sin of gluttony brought me here” (Inferno, p.
47). Upon hearing his story, Dante feels pity. “Ciacco, I feel your misery;
its weight bids me to weep” (Inferno, p. 47). This says a lot about Dante
during this time. In the early part of Inferno, Dante feels sympathetic towards