Canto 12 Inferno: harrowing of hell–violence

Canto twelve, the seventh circle begins the realm of the violent. Violence against neighbor, God, and self. Anthony Esolen reminds the reader that murder, violence is the most recognized sin, if not the only one. Everyone wants justice for this sin.

The wrathful, the murderous boil in a river of blood and shot with arrows from the centaurs bows. When Dante and Virgil enter the seventh circle, they see a Minotaur. The Minotaur representing the beastiality of human beings. In violence, in murder, we become the most beast-like, unthinking animal-like.

Lines 28-45 of this Canto speak about the earthquake at Christ’s death. A fitting place to speak of the violent murder of Jesus Christ. The only just One to be murdered, killed for the life of the world.

The lines speak of the destruction of walls and bridges in Hell from the earthquake that rattled the entire universe. The Life of the world died to bring Life to the world–a paradoxical statement.

In the Christian tradition it is thought that at Christ’s death, those in Hades (according to Dante the highest circle) were taken from Hades to be brought out with Christ. Many were those righteous, who died before Christ’s birth.

Love came down from heaven. Descended to Hell. Love even entered Hell. No matter how far we are from Christ, Love, the consuming fire seeks us out. It is the matter of if we follow or not–that is up to us. There is no determinism in following Christ–to accept His Love.


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