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Questions

Inferno Questions

Bring on the tough stuff - there’s not just one right answer.

  1. How can forces like love and compassion give rise to banishment to Hell? Do you see any traces of love or compassion in the sinners’ punishments?
  2. What are the three categories of sin, according to Dante? Why are the sins of the deeper circles morally worse than those of the higher?
  3. Why does Dante so highly admire Nature or anything natural? And if the natural is so good, why are the incontinent sinners – who only follow their natural instincts – condemned to Hell?
  4. Which sinners seem to be portrayed in a sympathetic light, highlighting their good attributes instead of their sins? Why do you think Dante tries to elicit our sympathy for them?
  5. Why is Dante’s sympathy for certain sinners so angrily rebuked by Virgil? Does Dante's maturation into a condemner make him morally superior?
  6. If Dante is devoted to honesty in his words, unlike these sinners, is he justified in lying (to say, Fra Alberigo) to carry out Divine Justice?
  7. To what extent does Dante’s personal and political life affect the Inferno’s content? What proportion of the sinners comes from Dante’s Florence?
  8. Which sinners come from Classical literature? Which are Biblical? What does this say about Dante’s conception of the Classics vs. the Christian?
  9. How does Dante honor the Classical tradition while adhering to the tenets of Christianity?
  10. How does Dante represent good and evil? What does this say about the power of evil in comparison to the power of virtue?

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