Comparison Of Hell And Dante's Hell

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Hell, for some the final frontier, for others an overused swear word. Over the years there have been many who attempt to depict Hell, but two poets seem to have very similar depictions about their thoughts on such a place. Even though some things are different between the two, it could be argued that Virgil’s underworld inspires Dante's Hell because the reactions that Aeneas and Dante show when presented with events in hell are very similar, The Sybil and Aeneas act like a guide and follower much similar to Virgil and Dante's relationship, and We see many similarities between the paths both Aeneas and Virgil take.
The first major influence from Virgil’s Aeneid that we see on Dante's Hell are the similar reactions to the suffering of the souls
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The Sybil guides while Aeneas follows, and Virgil guides as Dante follows. When Aeneas prepares to go into the Underworld, the Sybil who has already been taught the ways of the Underworld, boldly claims “When Hecate put me in chare of Avernus’ groves she led me through them all.” (6.655-657, pg. 201” referring to the punishments of the Underworld, as a way of proving herself of being a viable guide for Aeneas. A similar event occurs in the Inferno when Virgil first appears. He states “Therefore, for your sake, I think it wise you follow me: I will be your guide, leading you, from here, through an eternal place…” (I.112-114, pg. 9). This guide-follower relationship is kept up as we move through the layers of the Underworld and Hell. Before either Aeneas or Dante enter they obtain guides who lead them. While Dante directly calls Virgil his master on a number of occasions, Aeneas doesn’t directly do so to the Sybil, but we see him defer to her judgement and experience. From end to end of the Inferno, Dante asks questions akin to “Master, who are these souls entombed within these chests and who make known their plight with sighs of sorrow?” (IX.124-126, pg. 175). When Aeneas gets to the true suffering part, noting the screams in the air, asks “What are the crimes, what kinds? Tell me, Sibyl, what are the punishments, why this scourging? Why such wailing echoing in the air?” …show more content…
During Aeneas’s journey, he comes across a river where a ferry is the only way across. The ferryman named Charon says “This is the realm of shadows, sleep and drowsy night. The law forbids me to carry living bodies across in my stygian boat” (6.446-449, pg. 195), but Charon lets them through after a bribe. In the Inferno, Dante has a similar experience when he meets a ferryman who says “By another way, another port, not here you’ll come to shore and cross. A lighter ship must carry you” (III.91-93, pg. 53) But upon further convincing the ferryman also named Charon ferries the travelers across. Two stories where the characters need to cross a river to enter hell, get rebuffed by the ferryman at first, and convince him in the end. The scene plays out almost exactly the same save insignificant details. In the end both Aeneas and Dante get across, “Thus they depart over dark water” (III.118, pg. 55). Another character that spans both stories and acts in a similar way is when they come across Cerberus, the three-headed dog who guards the underworld from the living. Aeneas’s must pass by this creature when he enters the domain of Cerberus “These are the realms that monstrous Cerberus rocks with howls” (6.479, pg. 196). Then the Sybil quite preparedly came by, “The Sybil… tossed him a sop… and he, frothing with hunger

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