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The Comedy later renamed The Divine Comedy was written byDante Alighieri of Florence Italy In the early 14th centurywhile in exile Dante wrote this epic poem which is broken downinto three books In each book Dante recounts his travels throughHell Purgatory and Heaven respectively The first book of TheDivine Comedy Inferno is an remarkably brilliant narrative Henarrates his descent into and observation of hell through itsnumerous circles and rings One extraordinary way Dante depictedhell is in his descriptions of the various punishments that eachIn a prior college course I took we learned about medievaltorture practices This knowledge led me to see similarities inthe punishments given in Inferno The diverse punishments thatDante envisions all the sinners in hell receiving are broken downinto two types The first he borrows from many gruesome andsevere forms of medieval torture The second type is often lessphysically agonizing It is Dantes creative very clever formsof punishment Although all sinners in hell are souls Dantegives each one a physical attribute so that the reader canenvision the entire atmosphere clearer The borrowed medievalforms of torturous punishments create physical pain for thedifferent sinners in hell and thus intended to be interpretedliterally The creative punishments are conceived to delivermental and psychological pain to be understood metaphoricallyCreative punishments in many cases can however inflict both amental pain and a physical pain upon the sinner Many of the severe punishments that Dante foresees for thesinners are borrowed from practices of medieval torment andimprisonment The medieval dungeons were usually gloomy and darkand inundated in disgusting stenches Dante used this depictionto describe the overall atmosphere in the inferno Unbearable andunavoidable extremes of cold or hot temperature which areportrayed in the Inferno are also representative of Medievaltimes Prisoners of Medieval jails were provided with little orno ventilation to protect them from the extreme cold or hotweather they could easily freeze to death or die of heatstroke Throughout Inferno images of cruel punishment adopted fromthe ideas of medieval torture are seen
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