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

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  • 0:00 Round and Round
  • 0:26 Seventh Circle of Hell
  • 1:09 Section 1
  • 1:37 Section 2
  • 2:04 Section 3
  • 2:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Crystal Hall

Crystal has a bachelor's degree in English, a certification in General Studies, and has assisted in teaching both middle and high school English.

Dante's 'Inferno', an epic poem written by Dante Alighieri in 1300, chronicles the journey of Dante as he is guided through the Nine Circles of Hell by an ancient poet named Virgil. This lesson will focus on the Seventh Circle of Violence.

Round and Round

The Seventh Circle of Hell, the Circle of Violence, embodies three levels of souls who have committed acts of brutality. Each soul is assigned to a level of the circle according to the kind of violence that was committed while on Earth. Each level is occupied by faces that are sometimes familiar to Dante, as they were notable historical figures while they were alive.

Seventh Circle of Hell

In ''The Divine Comedy'', protagonist Dante Alighieri must travel through nine different Circles of Hell to save the soul of his beloved Beatrice from eternal damnation. During his perilous journey, Dante and his guide through the Underworld, Virgil, reach the Seventh Circle of Violence guarded by the mythological half-man half-bull, Minotaur.

After successfully evading the creature, the two men enter the Circle and are surrounded by the rubble of destroyed stones that litter the area as a result of a massive earthquake that was caused by the death of Jesus Christ.

Inside, the Circle is divided into three separate sections based on the type of violence that each soul was guilty of.

Section 1

The first section is Violence Against Neighbors. Those in this section engaged in violent crimes against their fellow man, including murder and war. The souls are submerged in a river of boiling blood and shot by beings with the lower body of a horse and the torso of a human, called Centaurs, if they rise too high out of the river. Notable historic military leaders in this section include Alexander the Great and Attila the Hun.

Section 2

The second section of the Seventh Circle is reserved for those who committed suicide, or Violence Against Self. Souls here are transformed into warped trees covered in thorns. The trees are tormented by Harpies, hybrid creatures that have the body of birds and the faces of human women. Dante and Virgil encounter Pietro della Vigna, a minister of Emperor Frederick II who committed suicide after being imprisoned and blinded.

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