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Dantes Divine Comedy and Aeneid In Dantes Divine Comedy Dante incorporates Virgils portrayal of Hades from The Aeneid into his poem and similarities between the Inferno and Hades can be drawn however Dante wasnt attempting to duplicate Virgils works Although the hell depicted in Dantes Inferno is essentially based on the literary construction of the underworld found in Virgils Aeneid in their particulars the two kingdoms are quite different Virgils underworld is largely undifferentiated and Aeneas walks through it without taking any particular notice of the landscape or the quality of suffering that takes place among the dead Aeneas first concern is with the fate of his friends then with meeting his father once more the philosophical and religious significance of sin and death is nothing to him and there is no moral judgment implied in the fate of the departed In Dantes Inferno on the other hand there is a systematic differentiation of the landscape and each progressively lower circle of hell implies a deadlier sin The quality of punishment given out to the sinners is thus increased as Dantes descend and Dantes compassion for the dead lessens as he moves downward to the bottom of hell Virgils underworld is really an extension of the natural world being entered through a cave mouth at the end of a beach at the Euboian settlement of Cumae renowned as the dwelling of Sibyl it is she who permits his passage to the realm below The cavern was profound wide-mouthed and huge rough underfoot defended by dark pool and gloomy forest Overhead flying things could never take their way such deathly exhalations rose from the black gorge into the dome of heaven 831 Virgils first descriptions of the underworld are dramatic and turbulent and there is even a series of symbolic fates that are medieval in their abstraction And pale Diseases and sad Age are there And Dread and Hunger that sways men to
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