The Second Circle of Hell: Understandable Sins


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Essay #: 072500
Total text length is 4,005 characters (approximately 2.8 pages).

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The beginning:
The Second Circle of Hell: Understandable Sins
In Dante’s Inferno, each circle of hell contains sin-specific punishments, each of which are intended to be terrible. However, in the second circle, sins of desire appear to be understood, although condemned, and Dante seems to sympathize with those confined there.
Those who, in life, gave into their sexual desires are punished in the second circle of hell. Their placement early on in the progressively severe circles suggests that their transgressions are less severe than others, a concept backed by Dante’s impression of these sinners. When Dante meets a pair of punished lovers, they are described as dove-like, a surprisingly pure image (Dante, 5.82-83). In comparison, the person who murdered...
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.....and evil. Describing Semiramis, one of those relegated to this circle, he says: “She with luxurious vice was so corrupt” (5.55), and highlights that another sinner, Helen, is responsible for “so much evil” because of her sinful choice (5.64-65).
Despite Virgil’s unbending view of the sinners in the second circle of hell, Dante’s sympathy for them, and their placement early on in the descriptions of evildoers, suggests that these individuals are wrongdoers, but are to be understood more and punished less harshly than those encountered later on. Still, the lustful are sentenced to punishments and torments specifically designed to ensure their misery.
Works Cited
Alighieri, Dante. A Translation of Dante’s Inferno. Bath:
Chronicle, 1887. Print.