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“There is a place in Hell called the Malebolge....” — Dante Alighieri
Fraud Opening

The Malebolge ("Evil Ditches") are found in and comprised the eighth circle of Hell. Within this circle are a total of ten bolge (singular bolgia, Italian for "ditches").

In the game, these ditches manifested as a series of trials - each ditch appeared as an arena and Dante must clear all enemies while using a specific combat style or completing specific challenges. Not sticking to the game style required or failing to complete the challenge given resulted in failure of the trial. Consequently, the arena will then collapse into the pit below, taking Dante with it.

Bonus challenges are given at the start of the trials and if these bonuses are completed, a large amount of souls was awarded.


Panderers and Seducers Edit

The Panders and Seducers
“Allow the sight of these ill-born souls to strike you: below, the panderers and seducers.” — Beatrice


Description: Edit

The first ditch of the Malebolge contained the panderers and seducers. Those punished here influenced others to commit sin for their own gain, and include those who prostituted themselves and others with evil intention. Their punishment was to march around the edge of the circle, being whipped by horned demons to keep them moving, similar to how they drove others in life with their seductive ways. The panderers and pimps are driven to the right, the seducers are driven to the left.

Famous Damned Souls: Edit

Among the shades here is the Greek hero Jason, who seduced both Queen Hypsipyle of Lemnos and Princess Medea of Colchis. Both Medea and Hypsipyle were manipulated into saving Jason's life, betraying loved ones when Jason was in danger. After he had children by both women, he abandoned them, despite making a sacred vow each time to remain loyal to the woman he was with at the time. This duplicitous behavior disgusted the gods, who cursed Jason for the rest of his life.

Also found here is Venedico Caccianemico, the leader of the Guelphs of Bologna. He is said to have sold his own sister, Ghisolabella Caccianemico, to Obizzo II d'Este, the Marquess of Ferrara. Caccianemico also reveals to Dante that he is not the only Bolognese panderer present, stating there are so many they outnumber children learning to speak, but he is soon silenced by a demon wielding a whip.

Time Trial and Bonus Challenge: Edit

Dante was given infinite mana in this ditch and was told to kill all enemies using magic, though scythe and cross attacks are allowed. The bonus was to complete the trial in under 75 seconds.

Flatterers Edit

Flatterers
“These wretched souls stewed in human filth suffer for the crime of flattery” — Beatrice


Description: Edit

The second ditch contained the flatterers. Those punished here are those who, like the panderers and seducers, convinced others to sin for their own gain, this time by using words. They are immersed forever in a river of human excrement, which represented the words that they produced.

Famous Damned Souls: Edit

Among those found here was Thais the Harlot, who teased and seduced hundreds of men with her beauty. She married the general Ptolemy I Soter, later Pharaoh of Egypt, but was never made his queen and died in obscurity.

Also found here is Alessio Interminelli of Lucca, one of the White Guelph faction, though his particular sin of flattery is not elaborated upon. He laments when Dante stares at him longer than the other sinners, though Dante explains the reason is due to him recognizing Interminelli and having known him when he was alive.

Time Trial and Bonus Challenge: Edit

In this ditch, Dante was required to get a 100-hit combo before he could pass the trial. The bonus was to complete the trial in under 30 seconds.

Simony Edit

Simony
“The simonist popes, those false men of the cloth whom you followed so blindly.” — Beatrice


Description: Edit

The third level of the Malebolge contained the Simonists (sinners guilty of selling positions within the church hierarchy and religious property for personal gain). They are punished by being forced upside down into baptismal fonts and having their feet set aflame, which was a corruption of baptism itself (as the Simonists themselves corrupted the church). The intensity of the flames depended on the guilt of the sinner. When another soul was sent to this level of the Malebolge, it took the place of one of the others. The one that it replaced disappeared forever, shoved further down into the font to suffocate.

Famous Damned Souls: Edit

This group of sinners was named after Simon Magus, a sorcerer who attempted to first "buy" the Holy Spirit from St. Peter, then tried to challenge the saint with his magic, which ultimately led to Simon Magus's death. Found here are several corrupt popes and cardinals, including Pope Nicholas III, who mistook Dante for Pope Boniface VIII in the poem (hinting that Boniface is destined for Hell upon his own death). Nicholas is present here for his acts of nepotism, while Boniface will be damned for not only being the cause of Dante's exile, but for multiple acts of betrayal and warfare as pope. Pope Clement V is also prophesied to join Nicholas and Boniface for moving the Holy See to Avignon in France, and thus pandering to the whims of the French monarchy.

Time Trial and Bonus Challenge: Edit

In this ditch, Dante must kill 5 enemies while they are airborne to pass. The bonus was to complete the trial in under one minute.

Diviners Edit

Diviners
“If only the false prophets here could see your future....” — Beatrice


Description: Edit

The fourth ditch was devoted to the diviners and fortune-tellers. Astrologists, seers, sorcerers and others who attempted to pervert God’s laws to divine the future are punished here. Their heads are twisted around to face backwards and they are forced to walk backwards around the circumference of their circle for all time. As punishment for attempting to see the future, they now could only look behind them. The point is further expounded by the fact that tears continually stream from their eyes, blurring their vision. While this mainly was poetic justice for trying to see into the future, it also represented the twisted nature of magic in general.

Famous Damned Souls: Edit

The blind prophet Tiresias resided in this ditch for his sins, along with his daughter, Manto. According to the game, Tiresias was not only guilty of trying to foresee the future, but also for using magic to change his gender from male to female, and back again. Also found here are Aruns (an Etruscan seer who foresaw the war between Caesar and Pompey), Michael Scot (famous Scottish mathematician and magician who was highly honored among royalty), Asdente (a Parma cobbler who made prophesies against Frederick II) and Guido Bonatti (an astrologer of Forli who claimed to have brought about the victory at Montaparti for the Senese).

Time Trial and Bonus Challenge: Edit

In this ditch, Dante must stay in the air for 8 seconds to pass. The bonus was to kill 2 enemies while completing the challenge in the air.

Politicians Edit

Grafters
“The boiling pitch of the politicians, among the worst of the liars.” — Beatrice


Description: Edit

The fifth level of the Malebolge was the home of the Politicians (extortionists, blackmailers, grafters and unscrupulous businessmen). These were sinners who used their positions in life to gain personal wealth or other advantages for themselves, robbing the rights of others. They are punished by being thrown into a river of boiling pitch and tar, which represented the sticky fingers and dark secrets of their business. In addition, should any of the politicians try to escape the pitch, a horde of demons (the "Malebranche", meaning "evil claws") armed with grappling hooks and barbs stood guard over them, ready to tear them to pieces and push them back into the tar.

Time Trial and Bonus Challenge: Edit

In this ditch, Dante must protect 2 innocents on opposite sides of the stage from hordes of Anger Minions that tried to attack them. One innocent could die and Dante could still pass as long as the other lived, but the bonus was to keep both innocents safe until the end of the trial. These innocents will die with one hit, making this a difficult challenge.

Hypocrites Edit

Hypocrites
“You're right at home with the hypocrites, Dante, in this sixth ditch.” — Beatrice


Description: Edit

The sixth level was the punishment for the hypocrites. They are forced to wear heavy robes as they are marched around the circumference of their circle. The robes are golden and resembled a monk’s cowl, but are lined with lead, symbolically representing hypocrisy. As they degraded others for sin but glorified themselves in life, they are now horribly weighed down by the sins that cripple them in the afterlife.

Famous Damned Souls: Edit

Among those found here are Catalano dei Malavolti (a Guelph, and governor of Bologna and Florence) and Loderingo degli Andalo (a prominent Ghibelline and co-govenor of Florence with Catalano). Despite being political enemies, the two together founded the Knights of St. Mary, also called the Jovial Friars, which was sanctioned by Pope Clement IV. The order was meant to promote peace between the warring factions, but in truth it degenerated into a self-serving organization.

Caiaphas, the Pharisee who insisted on the execution of Jesus, was crucified in this circle, staked to the ground so the ranks of the lead-weighted hypocrites marched across him, as he is deemed the greatest hypocrite of all. His father-in-law, Annas, shares Caiaphas's fate.

Time Trial and Bonus Challenge: Edit

In this ditch, Dante must kill all enemies without using magic to pass the trial. The bonus was to complete the trial in under one minute. Dante then had to use an Asterian Beast to rumble the statue from up high down to cross through the breaking rocks.

Thieves Edit

Thieves
“Eternally bound by snakes, the thieves suffer below.” — Beatrice


Description: Edit

The seventh ditch was the home of the thieves. This ditch is guarded by the centaur Cacus, who wields a fire-breathing dragon on one shoulder (in Greek Mythology, Cacus was originally a fire-breathing monster that was slain by Hercules after stealing the hero's cattle). The bolgia was filled with serpents, dragons and other vengeful reptiles that tortured the thieves endlessly. The bites of some of the snakes caused the thieves to spontaneously combust, only to regenerate their bodies for further torment in a few moments. Other thieves had their very essence traded with snakes and lizards that bit them, transforming their bodies into twisted snake-like versions of themselves, trading their identity with every bite. As thieves stole other people's possessions in life, their very identity became subjected to theft in the Malebolge.

Famous Damned Souls: Edit

Some notable thieves are included in the passage, with their fates being the most explicit and harshest of all the thieves. They are as follows:

  • Vanni Fucci, a Black Guelph who was so brutal in his pillaging of enemy homes he was called la Bestia ("The Beast"). He was also responsible for stealing a reliquary from the Cathedral of Pistoia, resulting in an innocent man nearly being executed for the crime. Fucci is turned to ashes and resurrected multiple times. When he attempts to curse God for this, one of the serpents of the ditch coils itself around his throat to silence him before he is deprived of his human form once again.
  • Agnello Brunelleschi, another Black Guelph and a famous thief who committed his crimes in disguise. He is blended with the six-legged reptile that is Cianfa.
  • Cianfa Donati, a political advisor, although his crime of theft is not elaborated on. He attacks and is blended with Agnello into a six-legged reptile.
  • Buoso Donati (or Buoso degli Abati), another of the Black Guelphs. His circumstances of thievery are not elaborated on. He exchanges shapes with the four-legged Francesco (no relation to the brother of Beatrice in the game).
  • Francesco de Cavalcanti, also called Guercio ("one-eyed"). Although his circumstances for theft are not disclosed, he was reportedly killed in the village of Gaville, and this murder resulted in a massive, violent fight between the villagers and his family, which brought about the death of many people. He exchanges shapes with Buoso.

Time Trial and Bonus Challenge: Edit

In this ditch, Dante's health will slowly drain and all enemies must be killed before he died. The bonus was to complete the trial in under one minute.

Evil Advisors Edit

Evil Counselors
“Stay here, and find company with the false advisors.” — Beatrice


Description: Edit

The eighth level was the home of the evil counselors. In this trench, the souls of deceivers who gave false or corrupted advice to others for personal benefit are punished. They are constantly ablaze, appearing as nothing so much as living, speaking tongues of flame.

Famous Damned Souls: Edit

Seen in this ditch was the Greek hero, King Odysseus (Ulysses), suffering here for his deception with the Trojan Horse, and the massacre of the Trojans by this trickery. Odysseus tells Dante of his final voyage, during which he had spotted Mount Purgatory before his ship was overturned, drowning the former king of Ithaca. Along with Odysseus is his fellow Greek hero and fighting companion, Diomedes.

Also found here is Guido da Montefeltro, who advised Pope Boniface VIII to make a truce with the noble Colonna family, and then subsequently break it, resulting in the destruction of the clan. Boniface offered complete absolution to Guido for any sins his advice might incur, though Guido's presence here shows Dante clearly felt this did nothing to save him from damnation in Hell.

Time Trial and Bonus Challenge: Edit

In this ditch, Dante must kill all enemies while being unable to block. The bonus was to complete the trial in under one minute.

Sowers of Discord Edit

Sowers of discord
“The worst of the frauds, those who seed evil and discord among those they should trust.” — Beatrice


Description: Edit

The ninth level was the home of "sowers of discord". Sinners who in life promoted scandals, schism and discord are punished here, particularly those who caused discord within the Church or within politics. They are forced to walk around the circumference of the circle bearing horrible, disfiguring wounds inflicted on them by a great demon with a sword. Being already dead, these sinners could not die from their mutilations, which in fact healed as they continued walking around the circle. By the time they reached the demon again, they would be fully whole once more, only for the demon to hack them apart all over again and the cycle to eternally repeat.

The nature of the wound mirrored the sins of the particular soul. While some only had gashes or fingers and toes cut off, others are decapitated, cut in half (as Schismatics) or are completely disemboweled.

Famous Damned Souls: Edit

Among those who are tormented here was Bertrand de Born, who carried around his severed head like a lantern, as punishment for the discord that he caused between Henry II of England and his son, Henry the Young King, who died rebelling against his father. The prophet Muhammad is also damned here; according to Brunetto Latini, Dante's mentor, Muhammad was a former cardinal before establishing the religion of Islam, which further split the Catholic Church. His son-in-law, Ali, is also present, going before Muhammad and weeping. He is damned for the division of Islam into the Sunni and Shi'ite denominations.

Prophesied to come to this bolgia in the future is Fra Dolcino, a member of the Order of Apostolic Brothers, who renounced all worldly goods. However, his order was deemed heretical; he and his fellows were hunted down, and Dolcino was burned at the stake. Muhammad gives Dante the warning for Dolcino to give up his ways before this fate comes to pass.

Time Trial and Bonus Challenge: Edit

In this ditch, Dante must kill all enemies in a single combo - if the hit counter resets, the trial was failed. The bonus was to complete the trial in under one minute.

Falsifiers Edit

Falsifiers
“The final ditch. Below are the fakes, society's plague, who suffer for eternity in disease.” — Beatrice


Description: Edit

The tenth and final area of the circle was the home for the falsifiers, who attempted to alter things through lies, deceit or alchemy. Those who tried to pass off false things as real things, such as counterfeiters of coins, are punished here. This ditch had four subdivisions, where specific classes of falsifiers (alchemists, impostors, counterfeiters and liars) endured different degrees of punishment in the form of horrible, consumptive diseases, such as rashes, dropsy, leprosy and consumption.

Famous Damned Souls: Edit

Here, Dante encountered the shade of Myrrha, a princess afflicted with madness for seducing her own father multiple times, disguising herself as a prostitute to do so until she was found out. Others found here include Zuleikha, the wife of Pontifar, who had lusted after Joseph, son of the Biblical patriarch Jacob. When he refused her advances, Zuleikha used his robe to falsely accuse him of rape. Also found here is Sinon, a mythological figure from Virgil's Aeneid. Sinon was stated to be a Greek spy who helped trick the Trojans into taking the Trojan Horse into their city. Due to his advice not only being evil but a complete falsification of the truth, Sinon is damned to this ditch rather than the one for Evil Counselors.

Time Trial and Bonus Challenge: Edit

In this ditch, Dante must simply survive the many overwhelming hordes of enemies that manifested. The bonus was to complete the trial in under 5 minutes.

Trivia Edit

  • It is interesting to note that in the game you never get to see any of the souls condemned to the Malebolge suffering their respective punishment. All that you get is a statue showing what the sinner's condemnation is on the side of the arena above each ditch. Screams can be heard coming up from the inky darkness below each arena, however. There are also damned souls trapped in the walls and impaled on spikes in the corridors between Malebolge.
    • The corridor before the Hypocrite Bolgia has at least two of the damned being crucified to the wall. This could be a reference to the fate of Caiaphas and his placement in the bolgia, but another crucified sinner is found in the corridor before the Evil Counselors bolgia, so it could be a coincidence.
  • The statue for the Flatterers bolgia implies that the term "human filth" and excrement also covers other unsavory bodily expulsions, such as vomit.
  • The statues for the Politicians Bolgia shows these sinners being hung like meat from the hooked ends of a Malebrache's wings, rather than being thrown into boiling tar.
  • The Diviners Bolgia was mistakenly called Politicians on the PlayStation Portable port.
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