Salvation In Dante's Inferno

1994 Words 8 Pages
In many places in his Inferno, the reason for Dante the poet’s placement of certain souls is murky at best. Nowhere is this problem so compounded as in Canto IV, where Dante the pilgrim meets the souls in Limbo. Dante the poet’s choice of whom to include among the “virtuous pagans” seems inconsistent and his removal of the pre-Christian monotheists from Limbo leaves questions about what it means, in his mind, to believe in God and to live a righteous life by His laws and the rules of the church, as well as in what circumstances a failure to do so is acceptable. The strange placements and exceptions in Canto IV make the requirements to achieve salvation or to be sent to a certain circle of hell seem unclear at best.
As Dante the pilgrim’s guide
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The Catholic concept of salvation requires faith and works; you have to believe in God and Jesus Christ and you have to live a good and righteous life. This is how Dante the poet defines his Hell, as souls in the first circle all failed, at least, the former of those requirements and the souls in every circle thereafter failed, at least, the latter. There is one group absent from the first circle: the virtuous men and women of the Old Testament. They could not have fulfilled the requirement of faith. Jesus Christ had not yet been born when they lived, much less begun to teach, so they had no way of following His teachings. Yet Virgil says that he "…saw a powerful one come…[and lead] forth from here the shade of our first/parent, of Abel his son, and that of Noah, of Moses" (4.51-56). He himself saw Jesus take some of the most notable figures of Judaism from the circle of the unbelievers. This raises the possibility that there is an acceptable second-best way of conduct: if through a lack of knowledge, one cannot worship God in the right way by recognizing His son, it is acceptable to worship God …show more content…
He has the means and the opportunity to explain why he places seducers and suicides in Limbo and why he places non-Christians in Hell or to place all those souls in places which would, by their definitions, seem to make more sense, but he chooses to stay silent on the matter by leaving his characters silent. It could be that it is more useful to create the narrative Dante the poet wanted to see in his poem or it could be that he places souls by their most notable crime against God in his own mind, rather than their most severe or most famous. It could be that he liked the thought of all those classical figures together for all eternity, meeting and spending time and talking with each other and that he did not like the thought of righteous Biblical figures languishing in Hell for something that could not control. It could be any number of other things. Whatever the reasoning may be, the poet leaves it to the readers to make their best

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