Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Inferno: First Three Rings of Hell

The Harrowing of Hell
Limbo is on the edge of hell and its residents are the virtuous pagans and unbaptized infants.  Previous residents included Adam, Abel, Noah, the patriarchs, and King David, among others who were followers of God. These residents were evacuated by Christ in the "harrowing of hell" and allowed to enter paradise.

Residents of limbo are not being tormented.  Their only suffering is "to be cut off from all hope, yet to live on in desire" (Lindskoog, Inferno, page 41).  The sound of sighs fills the air with sadness.

Gianciotto Discovers Paolo and Francesca by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres.
These are the souls Dante converses with in the first ring of hell

The second circle of hell is reserved for those consumed by lust and passions of the flesh.  These souls, who refused to contain their passions in life, are being blown around mercilessly by a tormenting wind.  Driven back and forth by hurricane strength winds is the punishment for those who "abandon self control and are ruled by lust" (Lindskoog)


And finally, the third circle of the Inferno is reserved for those guilty of gluttony.  The monster Cerberus tears at the guilty souls with his three heads- ripping them with his jaws and claws.  A cold heavy rain, mixed with snow and hailstones incessantly fall on the doomed souls.

Lindskoog provides a good explanation for this punishment.  Gluttony  "is often thought of as a warm, snug, clean comfortable and happy sin.."  A "respectable" sin that is tolerated in ourselves and others.  But, in reality, it "is a spiritually cold, sodden, dirty , and stinking sin".

I've not made as much progress as I'd hoped but I am plodding along.  Hopefully, writing about what I'm studying/reading (Institutes, Dante, and Scripture) will make me more committed to finish all three by years end.

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