The Divine Comedy Trilogy
Dante's poem starts with the introduction of Dante the Pilgrim halfway through his life (in his thirties) finding himself on
the edge of some dark woods. He does not understand how he arrived there, but feels he may have got there by wandering from
the 'straight path', or 'the path of truth'. Nonetheless, he raises his head from the dark valley to see a hilltop "shawled
in morning rays of light sent from the planet that leads men straight-ahead on every road". As he climbs the hill, three
beasts block his path; a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf. It can be argued that these beasts represent sins that are blocking
Dante's path to righteousness, fraud, violence, and incontinence respectively.
Fear of the beasts forces Dante to retreat back to the edge of the dark woods. "This last beast brought my spirit down so...
I lost all hope of going up the hill". He is, however, stopped by a figure that first appears unrecognizable to him. The
person soon presents himself to Virgil, the famous pagan Roman poet author of the Aneid (Alexander movie). Dante asks Virgil
for assistance to help rid of the beasts so he can pass on to the hilltop of Divine Light. Yet, Virgil indicates that Dante
is to go down another road. Virgil goes on further to explain that he will help Dante on his path, but that he will have to
leave him once he gets to Purgatory because he was born before Christ and therefore cannot know of true salvation.
The Rings or Circles of Hell are quite detailed, and Dante had a spot in them for just about everyone he knew, including the
Pope! His work combines the positive values of Christian thought and chivalric idealism.
At the end of hell is Lucifer, who has three faces from which he weeps tears mixed with bloody slaver, a mockery of the
Trinity. The forward-facing face is red, mocking Primal Love with hatred; one is yellow, parodying Diving Omnipotence with
impotence; and one is black, perverting Highest Wisdom with ignorance. Each of the faces has a mouth that is stuffed with
one of the worst traitors of the world, those who are treacherous against their benefactors. The first is Judas Iscariot,
who was a traitor to Christ for thirty pieces of silver. He endures the worst punishment by being chewed on by the red face
and being clawed by his bat-like wings. The second is Marcus Brutus, traitor to Caesar. The black face is chewing him. The
third sinner is Caius Cassius Longinus, who was another member of the conspiracy against Caesar.
To exit Hell, one must climb down the body of Lucifer, which is covered in shaggy hair; the ice stops a yard or so from Lucifer
himself. If one climbs down for long enough, one eventually feels as if one is climbing up again. This marks that one is
crossing the centre of the earth, or "the point to which all weight from every part is drawn". One then makes their way up
to a type of hollow tomb, a echoing grotto of dimly lit grey rock, from the floor of which the hooves of Lucifer project
upwards, upside-down from this perspective. A stream of clear, sweet water runs through this grotto.
This place serves as the exit of Hell and entrance to Purgatory. Its roof goes up thousands of miles, tapering gradually
until the opening into Purgatory is reached. This distance must be climbed, and when it is the travelers finally make their
way to the surface, where they come "out to see once more the stars" on the shore at the base of Mount Purgatory...
Please click on the afterlife names below to read about each of the feature movies: