Dante’s Inferno, the first section of his epic poem The Divine Comedy, is structured around nine circles of Hell. The Ninth Circle, also known as Cocytus, is the deepest and final circle of Hell. Dante reserved this circle for those who had committed treachery, seen as the worst possible sin.
The Ninth Circle is further divided into four sub-circles, or ditches. The first ditch is for traitors to their kin, the second for traitors to their country, the third for traitors to their guests, and the fourth for traitors to God. Dante himself notes that there are no punishments more severe than those in the Ninth Circle.
Those condemned to the Ninth Circle are trapped in a frozen lake, known as Cocytus. Dante describes it as “a great round shape… where Dante and Virgil encounter Lucifer, who is stuck at the bottom of the lake with his three mouths chewing on Judas, Brutus, and Cassius.”
The Ninth Circle is the final destination for those who have committed the worst possible sin. Traitors are condemned to an eternity of suffering in a frozen lake, with no hope of escape or relief. Dante’s Inferno serves as a warning to all readers that treachery will be punished harshly in the afterlife.
In place of a flamboyant depiction like in the other circles, the lowest stratum of hell is frigid and frozen. The sinners in the Ninth Circle of Hell are either murderers or traitors, and their punishment reflects their wickedness.
In Round 3 of the Cocytus, the murderers and traitors of guests are encased in ice, with the exception of half their faces above the ice and their tears forming a chilly layer over their eyes. Because to their own free will, each cold soul is now too powerless to atone for his or her misdeeds, these sinners are imprisoned in Cocytus’ frozen lake as part of the frozen sea, Cocytus.
Dante views Count Ugolino, a politician from Dante’s hometown of Florence who was imprisoned and starved to death by his archenemy, Archbishop Ruggieri. Ugolino is frozen in ice up to his neck and chewing on the head of Ruggieri.
Dante talks to Ugolino, who tells his story: he was entrapped by Ruggieri and offered food if he would tell Ruggieri the names of his fellow conspirators. When Ugolino refused, Ruggieri had his sons and grandsons brought before him and then starved them to death in front of him, after which Ugolino was imprisoned. Dante is so moved by Ugolino’s story that he weeps, and his tears fall on Ugolino’s face, thawing the ice around his eyes.
The Ninth Circle of Hell is Dante’s vision of the worst possible punishment for the worst possible sin. Dante believed that those who betrayed others deserved the most heinous punishment because their act was voluntary and they had time to repent but chose not to. The sinners in the Ninth Circle are frozen in ice up to their necks, and their tears create a frosty layer covering their eyes.
Each circle of hell in Dante’s poem, Inferno, represents a vice and contains shades suffering punishment equivalent to the crime. The poem vividly describes each layer of hell while also providing insight into Dante’s political and religious opinions.
The ninth circle of hell is the lowest and most severe level, as it houses those who have committed treachery. This circle is Dante’s commentary on how unforgivable this type of sin is.
The first part of the ninth circle of hell is reserved for shades who have betrayed their kin. These sinners are trapped in a frozen lake called Cocytus. Dante uses vivid imagery to describe the conditions in Cocytus, painting a picture of a cold and unforgiving place.
The shades in this section of the ninth circle are frozen up to their necks in ice, and they can only weep tears that freeze as soon as they fall from their eyes. Dante believes that those who betray family deserve this type of punishment because family is supposed to be the closest and most important relationship one can have.
The second part of the ninth circle of hell is reserved for those who have betrayed their country. These sinners are also trapped in ice, but they are frozen up to their faces. Dante believes that those who betray their country deserve this type of punishment because they have failed in their duty to protect and serve their homeland.
The third and final part of the ninth circle of hell is reserved for those who have betrayed God. These sinners are trapped in a fiery pit called Judecca. Dante believes that those who betray God deserve this type of punishment because they have committed the ultimate act of treachery.
Dante’s ninth circle of hell is a place of punishment for those who have committed the worst type of treachery. Dante believes that this type of sin is unforgivable and that those who commit it deserve to be punished in the most severe way possible.
The poem vividly describes the conditions in each part of the ninth circle, painting a picture of a cold, dark, and unforgiving place. Dante’s Inferno is a work that continues to be studied and discussed centuries after its publication, and the ninth circle of hell is one of the most memorable and important parts of the poem.
The nine circles of hell are each home to a specific group of sinners: the incontinent, represented by the she-wolf; the violent, represented by the lion; and Fraudulent, who make their home in with the leopard. When Dante first arrived in Hell, these three beasts blocked his path and forced him on a journey through all nine levels of sin.
Dante’s Inferno is not only a great epic poem, but also an interesting religious and philosophical work. It is a Dante’s masterpiece which should be definitely read by anyone who wants to get acquainted with his writings.
In Prodigal and Misery, Dante depicts the debauchery of the Catholic Church in the fourth circle of hell. The shades are forced to move huge boulders from two opposing sides, one side with the prodigals and one side with the miseries, and they can’t get any further in this circle.
Dante sees a group of “tonsured shades” amongst these other shades and Virgil explains to him that they are priests, popes, cardinals, etc. Dante is shocked to see members of the Church being punished in hell and asks Virgil how this could be.
Virgil explains that these are the shades of those who have committed simony, which is the act of selling spiritual goods or positions within the Church. He goes on to say that they are “doomed to push a heavy weight/ up an incline as long, as steep, and black/ as is this slope descending from the top” (Inferno, Canto XXIII). In other words, they are being punished by having to constantly push against something that is much larger and heavier than them, without ever making any progress.
This circle of hell is significant because it represents the corruption within the Church at the time Dante was writing the Inferno. Dante was a devout Catholic, and so this would have been a shocking revelation for him. It also serves as a warning to those within the Church who were engaging in simony, that they would be punished in the afterlife.
The ninth circle of Hell is reserved for traitors. Those condemned here are frozen in ice up to their waists, necks, or heads depending on the severity of their crime. Dante encounters two shades here, one of whom is Count Ugolino who was imprisoned and starved to death by Archbishop Ruggieri.