INFERNO Mystery Cache
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Inferno (Italian for "Hell") is the first part of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. It is an allegory telling of the journey of Dante through Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as nine circles of suffering located within the Earth. Allegorically, the Divine Comedy represents the journey of the soul towards God, with the Inferno describing the recognition and rejection of sin.
The poem begins on the day before Good Friday in the year 1300. The narrator, Dante himself, is thirty-five years old, and thus "halfway along our life's path" (Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita)—half of the Biblical life expectancy of seventy. The poet finds himself lost in a dark wood in front of a mountain, assailed by three beasts (a lion, a lonza [rendered as "leopard" or "leopon"], and a she-wolf) he cannot evade, and unable to find the "straight way" (diritta via)—also translatable as "right way"—to salvation. Conscious that he is ruining himself and that he is falling into a "deep place" (basso loco) where the sun is silent (l sol tace), Dante is at last rescued by the Roman poet Virgil, who claims to have been sent by Beatrice, and the two of them begin their journey to the underworld. Each sin's punishment in Inferno is a contrapasso, a symbolic instance of poetic justice; for example, fortune-tellers have to walk forward with their heads on backward, unable to see what is ahead, because they tried, through forbidden means, to look ahead to the future in life. Such a contrapasso "functions not merely as a form of divine revenge, but rather as the fulfilment of a destiny freely chosen by each soul during his or her life."
Dante passes through the gate of Hell, which bears an inscription, the ninth (and final) line of which is the famous phrase "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate", or "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here"
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