New Gate, Who Dis? Circle Six: Heretics; Circle Seven: Round One: Violent Against Neighbors
As the Furies called on Medusa to turn Dante and Virgil to stone, the Messenger of God entered to save them.
- Dante "saw more than a thousand ruined souls scatter away from one who crossed dry-shod the Stygian marsh into Hell's burning bowels"(Dante 9. 76-78).
- The Messenger of God spreads divinity, which the residents of hell fear.
Dante is easily frightened by the dwellers of hell.
- At the Gate of Dis, Dante’s “ face had paled to a mask of cowardice when [he] saw [Virgil] turn back” (Dante 9.1-2).
- Most heroes protect the afraid rather than being afraid with them. Dante, unlike many literary heroes, turns to hiding rather than facing the challenge.
Dante is questioned by Farinata about Florentine politics. Cavalcante pops up for an instant to ask about his son on Earth.
- When Cavalcante asks Dante why his son did not come on the journey, he takes Dante’s answer to mean that his son died.
- Dante asks Farinata to “tell that fallen one who asked about his son, that he is not dead, and that, if I did not reply more quickly, it was because my mind was occupied.” (Dante 10. 110-113)
- Dante shows his caring character.
Virgil explains to Dante the division of sins in Hell before entering the Seventh Circle.
- He explains that the Violent and Treacherous are in the lowest division of Hell because it is seen as the worst sin by God.
- This increases Dante's understanding of Hell and the magnitude of different sins.
As Dante and Virgil walk into the seventh circle of hell, they observe the punishment against those violent against their neighbors.
- On the way down to the river, Virgil had described the river as “a river of boiling blood in which are steeped all who struck down their fellow men”, but when they are walking with Nessus, he explains that Alexander and Dionysius are in the river (Dante 12. 46-48).
- Because these men shed blood of those around them, their punishment is to stay in the blood they shed, building inside them the feeling of guilt.
Dante's presence is challenged by guardians of hell, especially Chiron who believes that the living should not dwell in hell.
- Virgil responds to Chiron that "it is true he lives; in his necessity I alone must lead him through this valley. Fate brings him here, not curiosity." (Dante 12.85-87).
- Unlike others, Dante's purpose in hell is to purify others with his presence and warn people on Earth on committing sins. His journey was willed by God.