Hell (Also known as The Woeful Realm) was a realm of the afterlife where unrepentant mortals who committed sin are sent to be tortured as punishment for eternity. Composed of nine circles (Or more or less nine levels), the Inferno was strictly Lucifer's domain. Each circle acted as a prison for souls who committed certain types of sins and are punished poetically in death.
The Shores of Acheron are the outer edges of Hell. The shades that lied on its shores lived life with neither fame or infamy, having only ever served themselves rather than choose a side. Denied Paradise, they are not required to enter The Woeful Realm and are not welcomed in either place.
The Nine CirclesEdit
In the first circle, Limbo resided the unbaptized and the virtuous pagans who, though not sinful in life did not accept Christ or had the opportunity to know about him. Limbo was on the outer boundary of Hell, just across the River Acheron. The guiltless Damned are punished by living in a grand yet deficient form of Heaven. Lacking a baptism, they lacked the hope for something greater than themselves.
Below Limbo was the second circle, Lust. In this circle, the carnal Damned are punished in an endless tempest of fierce winds, representing the power of Lust to blow one about aimlessly and needlessly. Within it resided Cleopatra who ruled over the shades atop The Carnal Tower with her lover, Marc Anthony.
Below Lust was the third circle, Gluttony where the gluttonous souls forever lied in a vile slush produced by ceaseless foul and icy rains. The rains and sludge symbolized the cold, empty sensuality of their lives and the waste that their voraciousness generated. The rest of the terrain resembled digestive organs. The circle was guarded by the three-headed guard dog, Cerberus. Beyond The Great Worm was the circle proper as well as the Hall of Gluttons. This frozen, maze-like hall was reserved for those of royalty and high status who in life indulged in food and drinks to gross excess. In death, they are constantly devoured and excreted by several Gluttons for eternity.
Below Gluttony was the fourth circle, Greed. Those whose attitude toward material goods deviated from the appropriate mean are punished. This included avarice (Hoarding valuable possessions and money) and the prodigal (Those who squandered such goods). Within the circle, occupants are boiled alive in molten gold below. Here Plutus, God of Wealth resided along with Lady Fortune which impacted the fate of those still alive on Earth.
Below Greed was the fifth circle, Anger. In The River Styx, the wrathful fought each other on the surface and the sullen lied gurgling beneath the water withdrawn, "into a black sulkiness which could find no joy in God or man or the universe." Guarded by Phlegyas, he transported anyone across the poisonous, swampy river. Beyond the river lied the City of Dis, residence of the Fallen Angels and the gateway to the final four circles of Hell.
Below Anger was the sixth circle, Heresy. In this circle, heretics such as Epicureans (Who said "The soul died with the body") are trapped in flaming tombs, alongside those who denied the existence of God and the soul after death or who worshipped false idols and devils. In this burning cemetery, Pagans, the followers of Epicurus and atheists are burned in sealed coffins for all eternity.
Below Heresy was the seventh circle, Violence. This circle was guarded by a Minotaur (A mechanical statue in the game) and separated into three parts: Violence against others, Violence against the self (Suicide) and Violence against God. Those who acted with violence against others are boiled in a river of blood: The Phlegethon, guarded by Centaurs who kept those trapped within from escaping. Those who committed suicide or violence against themselves are placed in the Wood of the Suicides, condemned to writhe in eternal pain as gnarled trees. As just penalty for having given up their old bodies, they are denied a human form in death. Finally, those who showed violence against God are placed in the harsh region of the Abominable Sands including those guilty of sodomy, perversion of Nature and blasphemy against God. They are condemned to wander among burning sand dunes as the flaming brimstone rained down upon them.
Below Violence was the eighth circle, Fraud. Fraud was an extremely dark place that held those guilty of deliberate, knowing evil: those who used lies and deception for personal gain. This circle was divided into ten ditches known collectively as the Malebolge (Individually as Bolgia), each holding a different type of liar and a different and appropriate form of punishment. The ten ditches of Fraud are:
- Panderers and Seducers - Forced to march in separate lines in opposite directions, whipped by demons as the seducers themselves forced others to follow their selfish designs.
- Flatterers - Submerged in human excrement. The excrement was a direct embodiment of their own false words.
- Simony - Placed head-first in holes in the rock with flames burning on the soles of their feet. This was a corruption of baptism as the Simoniacs corrupted the Church.
- Diviners - Sorcerers, astrologers and false prophets had their heads twisted around on their bodies backward so they "found it necessary to walk backward because they could not see ahead of them". This was a penalty for trying to see beyond or better than God.
- Politicians - Corrupt politicians are immersed in a lake of boiling pitch which represented the sticky fingers and dark secrets of their corrupt deals. These sinners are driven back into the pitch by the Malebranche, a band of demons led by Malacoda.
- Hypocrites - Hypocrites listlessly walking along wearing gilded lead cloaks which represented the falsity behind the surface appearance of their actions. This hypocrisy weighed them down and made spiritual progress impossible for them. The High Priest Caiaphas who was responsible for the Crucifixion of Jesus was given a unique punishment for his own hypocrisy: He was crucified to the floor of the bolgia to be trampled continuously by the other, weighted Hypocrites.
- Thieves - The thieves are repeatedly pursued and bitten by snakes and lizards whose poison transformed their bodies into grotesque, reptilian shapes. As they stole from others in life, the thieves themselves are subjected to the theft of their own bodies.
- Evil Counselors - These sinners are eternally set on fire, appearing as nothing more than pillars of flame. They suffered for eternity for deliberately giving advice meant to bring wickedness and suffering to others.
- Sowers of Discord - A sword-wielding demon hacked at the Sowers of Discord, dividing parts of their bodies as these sinners in life divided people against one another. As they made their rounds, the wounds healed, only to have the demon tear apart their bodies all over again.
- Falsifiers - The falsifiers, counterfeiters and impostors are plagued with various painful diseases and infections. The diseases represented how these people are an infection on a healthy, functioning society and these sinners are given a disease or malady appropriate to the type of falsifying that they did in life.
Below Fraud was the ninth circle, Treachery. This was the farthest place in all of creation from the light of God, located at the Earth's core and was the deepest and blackest of all of the circles. This was where traitors are distinguished from the "merely" fraudulent that their acts involved betraying family, the community, guests and even Christ. The final circle was literally Hell "frozen over." Alongside the traitors, the Giants of myth are condemned here, guarding the entrance to the circle proper. At the very center of Treachery lied Lucifer, trapped in the frozen Lake Cocytus from the waist downwards. The futile beating of his wings caused an icy wind which combined with the tears that he shed only trapped him in the ice even further as well as his fellow traitors who are frozen alongside him in Cocytus.
Known Residents Edit
The following table includes only characters who were known to be in Other World at some point during the series. Naturally, it can be assumed that any mortal in the Dante universe could eventually become a resident. Note: Characters with technical matters will appear with a "*" next to their name.
|Resident||Cause(s) of residency|
- Despite being a realm for evil souls, Hell does not seem exclusive to human souls. It also applies to beings such as monsters (the Minotaur and Cerberus), demigods (Phlegyas, a son of the Greek god Ares), Centaurs (Nessus), and even deities (Plutus, the Greco-Roman god of Wealth). This is due to Dante's synthesis of the Underworld of Greco-Roman mythology and the Judeo-Christian teachings of Hell (the merging of Classical and Christian themes was typical of the Renaissance period in which Dante lived).
- The original Inferno explains that a human need not always be dead before their soul descends to Hell. In the case of Treachery, once the sin has occurred, the human's soul is automatically sent to the lowest circle, while the still-living body becomes possessed by a fiend in their place.