Dante “built” his version of hell utilizing rather equal measures of Roman Catholic doctrine and his own personal perspective regarding the guilt or innocence of the people he put there (his personal perspective seems sometimes rather vindictive). Pick one character who seems to be in hell for reasons the Catholic church of that time would approve, and one or two who seem to be there simply because Dante was “getting even.” Explain how this is so in each case using details from the poem as well as from whatever historical sources you wish to utilize. (MANDATORY)
While exploring the different circles of hell in Dante’s Inferno, the reader finds that different forms of sins are relegated. Throughout the read, one comes across different forms of punishments for sins and in the circle Canto 18, also known as Malebolge, where fraud is punished, one comes across a priest entangled in the eight circle of Hell. The priest is the character with which Dante “gets even”. A priest is normally considered as a man of moral obligation and is someone who could not possibly end up in hell but like Dante, readers also find themselves shocked to find a priest in hell. The priest in hell denotes the defamation of Church and how Dante is getting even with the Church by pointing out the corruption amidst the Catholic Church.
The priest is present in hell for sinning and is guilty for defrauding the congregation and this is what Dante is angry at. Through Dante’s portrayal of the priest in hell, his anger at the Catholic Church is reflected as he condemns it in his work. In fact, the priest was actually the notoriously corrupt Pope Boniface VIII who reigned from the year 1294 to 1303. Pope Boniface made several attempts to enhance the position as well as power of Catholic Church.
Pope Boniface was also known as the enemy of Dante as Dante highly vocalized as well as advocated for the separation of state and church. Although Pope Boniface is not present within the inferno physically, however, he is portrayed as the symbol of sin in the form of the priests and clerics in hell. Pope Boniface is mentioned by the Simonist Pope Nicholas III who is in hell for selling absolution with indulgence. Pope Nicholas III mistakes Dante for Boniface as he says,” “Are you already standing, already standing there, o Boniface?”. Pope Boniface was already alive when Dante wrote The Divine Comedy so he could not place Pope Boniface in hell but he could portray him as being one of the sinners destined for hell by condemning him.
Dante placed the still living Branca d’Oria and Fra Alberigo to get even with the Church as he committed the biggest breach of the Catholic theology in the Divine Comedy. This is because the idea of placing a sinner in hell even before they are dead is something that is contradictory to the orthodox Catholic beliefs. Many of the scenes in Dante’s inferno happen to be something that are condemned by the Catholic Church. Although many of the scenes in Dante’s Inferno rely on illustrations of Christian morals, his representation of Branca d’Oria and Fra Alberigo are completely opposite the beliefs of Christian morals to emphasize on the crimes of the sinners who were condemned to the ninth circle. Vanni Fucci di Pistoia is thecharacter who seems to be in hell for reasons the Catholic church of that time would approve. This is because the character is a thief who stole from the Church. He was sent to the eight circle of hell where the felons and thieves are punished. When asked by Dante, he replied that he is in hell for the sin of stealing from the Church of St. James and for accusing a man for a crime that was innocent\. The innocent man was known as Vanni della Nona who was then executed. Although the thief, Vanni Fucci, was not caught, he was sent to Hell for stealing Church property. The property stealing is a crime that is not forgiven due to holy perspectives.
Count Ugolinodella was an Italian nobleman, politician as well as naval commander who was accused for treason and was condemned to hell. He was seen chewing the neck of Archbishop Ruggieri as Ruggieri locked him as well as his sons when he was alive in a tower which led to their death. The sin of treason for which Ugolinodella Gherardesca was condemned are the ones for which the Catholic Church would approve of. The offences of circle nine and eight falls under fraud which Ugolino della Gherardesca committed. The count admits to Dante of cannibalism as he states that he ate his children for his desire to survive the circumstances he was thrown in. This is why when Dante comes across Ugolino in hell, Ugolino is eating the skull of Ruggieri. Thus Count Ugolino has been portrayed throughout history as being the Cannibal Count. The crime of Ugolino made him famous in history, due to the cannibalism aspects the tribe faced darkness and horrible kind of disasters.