“Messiah, forgive me!” — Pontius Pilate

Pontius Pilate was one of the Damned which Dante must punish or absolve for "The Damned" achievement/trophy. He was encountered along the Shores of Acheron.


"His cowardice contributed to the suffering of One for the sins of many, and now he bears the weight of all in Limbo."


Pontius Pilatus, better known as Pontius Pilate (? - 39 A.D.) was stationed as regional governor (prefect) of the Roman-ruled Judea from the year 26 B.C. to 36 A.D. According to Biblical text and supported by historic record, Jesus of Nazareth was brought before him by the Pharisees and their High Priest, Caiaphas, on the day after Passover. It was Pilate's right to act as arbitrator in such cases, as Jesus was charged with heresy and for stirring up rebellion. Pilate questioned the man but found no evidence of what the Sanhedrin accused him of. As such, he had Jesus scourged and imprisoned, with the intent of releasing him. That night, Pilate's wife Claudia Procula had a disturbing dream, and warned him to have nothing more to do with Jesus or his fate.

However, as it was the Passover season, as per tradition there were two prisoners that would be presented before the people, who would decide who should be let go. Jesus of Nazareth and an accused murderer named Barabbas were brought forth for this occasion. Pilate is said to have asked the crowd, "Who do you want me to release? Barabbas or Jesus who was called the Messiah?" The people of Jerusalem, at the instigation of the Pharisees, ordered Barabbas to be released. Pilate then asked them "Then what should I do with Jesus who was called the Messiah?" The priests persuaded the crowd to order Jesus to be crucified.

Upon hearing so, Pilate was said to have had a bowl of water brought forth. He washed his hands in it before the crowd, saying "I am innocent of this man's blood, see to it yourselves."

Pilate was removed from his post three years later and recalled to Rome after he showed great brutality in crushing an uprising. Pilate was succeeded by the Roman Marcellus.


"What shall I do with this false messiah?"

"I find no fault with this man!"

"I am innocent of this man's blood!"

"I wash my hands of him. He is yours"

"Let him be crucified."

"Carpenter, kneel before me! Answer to these accusations!"

"His blood will be upon you and your children!"

"You say he has declared himself a king?"

"You have handed him over only out of envy!"

"This man and his rabbie stormed the Temple!"

"Take him from the cross, wash him, have him buried honorably..."

"They would rather have me release a murderer than you, Carpenter."

*Grabbed by Dante* "I condemned a virtuous man to the cross?!"

*Grabbed by Dante* "Messiah, forgive me!"

"No!" *Slain by Dante*

*Absolved by Dante* "Peace be with you..."


  • In The Inferno, some believe that Pontius Pilate is mentioned to be among those on the Shores of Acheron, in the Vestibule of Hell (where Opportunists who never chose sides in life were punished by manifestations of their guilty conscience). However, the text is ambiguous.
  • While Matthew 27:24 states that Pilate washed his hands of Jesus' innocent blood, some historians find such a claim dubious. Tensions were high in Jerusalem during the Passover season due to the occupation of the Romans. Jesus' teachings and his earlier action of throwing over the tables in front of the Temple made him a potential political enemy to both The Pharisees and to Pilate himself as regional governor. He may not have seen a moral dilemma in having a potential rebel leader executed before a riot began in the city.
Condemned Souls
Pontius Pilate ·  Orpheus ·  Electra ·  Francesca da Polenta ·  Paolo Malatesta ·  Semiramis ·  Ciacco ·  Clodia
Tarpeia ·  Gessius Florus ·  Fulvia ·  Boudica ·  Hecuba ·  Filippo Argenti ·  Emperor Frederick II
Cavalcante de Cavalcanti ·  Farinata degli Uberti ·  Attila the Hun ·  Pietro della Vigna ·  Brunetto Latini
Guido Guerra ·  Thaïs ·  Tiresias ·  Myrrha ·  Fra Alberigo ·  Mordred ·  Count Ugolino