Thursday, January 22, 2015

The Eighth Circle

If you've read Dante's Divine Comedy, and specifically the first volume, Inferno, you know that Dante imagined Hell as an inverted cone divided into nine circles to which sinners were assigned depending on their sins. The circles grew smaller in diameter as one neared the lowest depths of Hell, and at each descending level the punishments of the damned souls grew worse according to Dante's assessment of the severity of their sins. At the ninth - lowest - level, Satan was imprisoned in ice for all eternity.

But it's the eighth circle I want to talk about today, because I think it's the circle that is uniquely suited for many of the characters that plague us today.

Unlike the other circles of Hell, the eighth was divided into a number of subcircles for a particularly loathsome group of condemned sinners, lumped together under the general sin of fraud; it housed those condemned for the sins of:

Political Corruption;
Fraudulent Rhetoric;
Divisiveness; and,

It occurs to me that all of these are especially rampant in our present-day political culture. Flattery, Fraudulent Rhetoric, Divisiveness, and Falsification are staples of political speechifying and news coverage*, while Hypocrisy, Political Corruption, and Theft are rampant at every level of politics.

The eighth circle also includes sinners condemned for sins somewhat less associated with politics:

Pimping and Seducing**; and,

One last category of sin punished in the eighth circle is Simony (the abuse of power within the Church). While Dante was particularly focusing on things like the venal sale of Church offices and blessings, one might also consider simony today to include the sexual abuse of children by priests and - beyond the Catholic Church - clerics and adherents of religions who incite violence against those who observe faiths other than their own.

Where's Dante when you need him****?

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Particularly on Faux News.

** Although our elected reprehensives practice this on us, particularly in election years.

*** Although much conservative economic theory depends on it.

**** The satirical newspaper The Onion back in 1998 ran an article that announced the expansion of Hell to squeeze in a new tenth circle - Corpadverticus, The Circle of Total Bastards - between levels eight and nine. The expansion was made necessary, according to a spokesdemon for Hell interviewed for the article, because “… a majority of the new arrivals possessed souls far more evil than the original nine circles were equipped to handle. Demographers, advertising executives, tobacco lobbyists, monopoly-law experts retained by major corporations, and creators of office-based sitcoms–these new arrivals represent a wave of spiritual decay and horror the likes of which Hell has never before seen,” the spokesdemon said.


allenwoodhaven said...

Very interesting. I can believe an expansion was necessary. I personally hope to avoid them all...

eViL pOp TaRt said...

Put the sexual abusers of children in as low an accommodation in hell as you can go!

Linda Kay said...

Like the first commenter, I would hope to avoid them all. Don't remember ever reading about the sections of hell, but interesting that we would even have an addition!

Big Sky Heidi said...

Maybe hell should have a low rent annex.

Margaret (Peggy or Peg too) said...

Bilbo this was very interesting!
Love to hear your thoughts on Paris suing Faux News.

Mike said...

We're all living in the tenth circle right now.

Elvis Wearing a Bra on His Head said...

Telephone solicitors and politicians who never shut up belong in Hell's outhouse.

Dismal Sam said...

Real estate must be really cheap in hell.