Dante's Inferno Fourth Circle of Hell: Punishments & Description

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Celeste Bright

Celeste has taught college English for four years and holds a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature.

In Dante's Inferno, the Fourth Circle of Hell is reserved for greedy souls who either overspend or hoard. Learn about the sins of incontinence, a description of the Fourth Circle, Plutus, and the punishments of the Fourth Circle. Updated: 01/20/2022

Sins of Incontinence

In the Inferno, Circles Two through Five of Hell are assigned to people who are guilty of sins of incontinence. This means that they lack moderation, discipline, or restraint in one or more areas of their lives. These circles contain sinners who are lustful, gluttons, spenders or hoarders, and ''wrathful'' or ''sullen.'' These people exhibit either excess or negligence when it comes to sex, food, money, or anger.

Although hoarding can be caused by a psychological disorder, for Dante, it's a hell-worthy offense. The Fourth Circle of Hell, found in Canto Seven, is reserved for those guilty of avarice, or greed, who either spend or hoard too much money in pursuit of material gain.

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Dante's Inferno Fifth Circle of Hell: Punishments & Description

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:04 Sins of Incontinence
  • 0:47 Description
  • 1:19 Plutus
  • 1:49 Punishments
  • 2:16 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed


To get to the Fourth Circle, Dante and his guide Virgil have to climb down a large rock. This circle of hell is divided in half, with one side for the spenders and the other for the hoarders. Dante writes that many Catholic ''clerics, cardinals, and popes'' are here because they're guilty of avarice, which causes them to hoard money. As he looks around, Dante sees that everyone from the spending side is either charging toward or already entangled in a brawl with someone from the hoarding side, so that the two men are surrounded by people fighting.


On the border between the Third and Fourth Circles, Dante and Virgil run into Plutus, who is called ''the great Enemy'' in Canto Six because he is associated with greed, which is one of the most powerful sins to corrupt mankind. We don't get much of a physical description of Plutus. However, Virgil calls him an ''accursèd wolf,'' and we know that he speaks with a horrifying ''gutteral, clucking voice.'' Virgil tells Dante not to be afraid of Plutus, since the monster is not allowed to impede their journey through hell.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Resources created by teachers for teachers

Over 30,000 video lessons & teaching resources‐all in one place.
Video lessons
Quizzes & Worksheets
Classroom Integration
Lesson Plans

I would definitely recommend Study.com to my colleagues. It’s like a teacher waved a magic wand and did the work for me. I feel like it’s a lifeline.

Jennifer B.
Jennifer B.
Create an account to start this course today
Used by over 30 million students worldwide
Create an account