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The Concept of Contrapasso and its representation
When Dante and Virgil arrive in the third circle of Hell, it is raining, as this is the usually the climate that accompanies the punishment of the gluttons. Dante describes the rain as “eternal, cursed, cold, and heavy rain its rule and good quality never change” (6.7-9). The rainwater is filthy and large hailstones and snow also fall from the sky. The “earth stinks that receives them” (six.11-12). In these couple of quick lines, Dante is capable to convey the disgusting atmosphere of this circle to emphasize the concept of the misery of Hell. A monstrous dog-like beast with three heads named Cerberus guards the gluttons, who howl like dogs along with the creature. When Cerberus spots Virgil and Dante, he opened his mouth and showed his fangs. Virgil “opened his hands, took up earth, and with both fists full threw it into these ravenous pipes” (6.25-27). The beast devours the mud and then grows quiet, symbolizing that he himself is a glutton. Contrapasso and retribution are clearly evident as the sinners are tormented by this beast who reflects their earthly behaviors. The vile slush symbolizes the private degradation of an individual who overindulges in food, drink, or other worldly pleasures. The inability to see other people lying nearby represents the gluttons’ selfishness and coldness. These souls that overindulged in food, drink, and other kinds of addiction are eternally tortured for carrying out so, and their punishment directly reflects and satirizes these distinct earthly faults.
Virgil and Dante enter the sixth bolgia of the eighth circle of Hell which punishes those who committed Fraud. They witness the hypocrites who are “painted men and women who have been walking with really slow methods, weeping and, by their expressions, weary and defeated” (23.58-60). The hypocrites are wearing hooded robes that resemble those of the monks. Even so, these robes are “dazzlingly gilded, but within they are all of lead, so heavy that the ones Frederick place on folks might have been of straw” (23.64-66). It is noted that Dante’s interpretation of hypocrisy comes from Uguccione of Pisa’s Magnae derivationes which attributes the etymology of “hypocrisy” to “hypo,” which means under, and “crisis,” which means gold (64-65nn). Analogous to the gilded cloaks, in their lives, the sinners appeared to be very good externally. However in reality, they contained evil inside. The hypocrites listlessly stroll along wearing the heavy, gilded lead cloaks, representing the factiousness behind the look of their actions. This falsity weighs them down and tends to make spiritual progress not possible for them. The hypocrites’ contrapasso is acceptable for the sin itself as the sinners are now tortured and weighed down by a physical representation of their manipulation of other people in the course of life.
In this bolgia, Virgil and Dante meet Catalano and Loderingo who are Jolly Friars from Bologna. The Jolly Friars had been a religious order that quickly accomplished a reputation for corruption and self-interest (103n). Prior to Dante can commence a conversation with Friars, he spots a man who is crucified to the ground with 3 stakes. Catalano tells Dante “‘That 1 staked there at whom you are looking counseled the Pharisees that is was expedient to put one man to death for the men and women. He is stretched naked out across the road, as you see, so that whoever passes, he must really feel his weight first” (23.115-119). This man is Caiaphas who was the higher priest of the Sanhedrin. He urged the crucifixion of Jesus in order to silence Jesus’ criticisms of the Sanhedrin’s hypocrisy, who covered their self-interest with a pretense of public concern (115-123nn). Caiaphas is forced to really feel the weight of the hypocrisy of other people as the other hypocrites actually stroll more than him. This is also an allegory that parallels Christ on the cross who bore the weight of all men’s sins (118-120nn). Although they are in the exact same bolgia, the sinners’ punishments clearly differ greatly. The location which the sinners are sent to represents the kind of crime committed, as both the cloaked hypocrites and Caiaphas and his followers all committed fraud, however the actual punishment depends on the certain situations and severity of that crime. Caiaphas suffers the eternal punishment that is equivalent to the suffering he brought on when he was alive, demonstrating a contrapasso that Caiaphas is totally worthy of.
Virgil and Dante continue to the seventh bolgia of the eighth circle, which punishes thieves. The atmosphere of each and every bolgia is becoming increasingly a lot more disturbing, as serpents and terrifying beasts roam among the sinners. Virgil and Dante watch Vanni Fucci and Cacus the centaur be tortured by these creatures. But the true horror of this circle seems when a sinner calls out Cianfa’s name. Cianfa, a serpent with six feet attacks the man who referred to as him and “wrapped about his waist, with its forefeet it seized his arms then it pierced each his cheeks with his fangs” and continued to wrap about Agnel like a tree (25.52-54). The component of this punishment that reflects the sin of thievery is when their two heads melt collectively and their limbs grow and twist with each other. The thieves’ punishment is revealed progressively. As the thieves after stole other’s people’s possessions, the sinners are now topic to theft. And since they are in Hell, their identities are their most valued possessions. Agnel’s identity is diminished by his transformation with Cianfa. Dante and Virgil watch yet another gruesome transformation that in the end leaves the man a snake while the creature becomes a man. The newly created man can now speak, saying “‘I want Buoso to run, as I have, on all sixes along his path’” (25.140-141). He takes delight in Agnel’s suffering. The contrapassos that the sinners in this bolgia endure is essentially identical to their earthly wrongdoing. These gruesome punishments let the sinners to be victims of thievery, losing their identities and mortal types, which are all they have left.
All through their journey by way of Hell, it becomes clear that each and every sinner’s contrapasso has the exact same impact on them as their sins had on others when they have been alive. These punishments vary significantly, however they are all proper to the sin itself. And, there is multi-dimensional symbolism present in each and every sin’s contrapasso. The significance of the different punishments signifies that each and every circle of Hell and bolgia houses sinners of a specific crime, yet each sinner’s contrapasso exquisitely fits the situations and severity of the wrongdoing. The sinners in every of these 3 examples is tortured to a state that is physically unbearable, exhibiting that each punishment is excruciating and tailored to provide the retribution that the sinners are worthy of.
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