Each person Dante speaks to in this sixth circle of Hell is a heretic. An Epicurean, one who denies the immortality of the soul. In Esolen’s commentary, he reminds us that Epicurianism is now associated with hedonism. But Epicurus found pleasures of the mind as the highest pleasure. He posited that the soul would decay and die. Immortality was nonsense to him–resurrection of the dead–including the body also a fallacy to him.
If one believes that all we have is this world, then politics are our only hope. What we do in the here and now is the only thing that matters. Immortality is through progeny, the bloodline. But what of justice for those who get away with injustice in this world? Are they just turned to dust and the world moves on from the atrocity caused by one or many? Eventual course correction by the next generation.
If this is the only existence, then why should morality even be considered? Not believing the in the Last Judgment and the resurrection of the whole person–including body leads a person down a road of confusion.
But even when we do believe, we justify our actions with other reasons. Reason cannot save us.
In Purgatory, the souls there pray for those still on Earth. In Hell, they only lament those who pass without hope. Dante encounters Cavalcanti, whose son, Guido is Dante’s friend. Cavalcanti asks about Guido and assuming by Dante’s answer believes him dead. He wishes he could go on being alive on earth. But does not look forward to the hope of resurrection and certainly does not pray for his family. In Hell, one does not pray.
Trapped within their minds their punishment. What a Hell to abide. Being trapped within your mind in isolation, without discussion, without speaking to another, without creative outlet is Hell. (It makes me anxious just thinking about it). To be trapped within your mind is tormenting.
A just punishment who wants to elevate the mind entirely and deny the body and the soul–the whole person. God have mercy.