A powerful allegorical treatise on Christianity, the depravity of man, and God’s sovereign wisdom.
Halfway through his life Dante finds himself lost in a dark wood of unbelief, plagued by the lusts of the flesh come to harry him in beast form. Unable to flee and find the right path for himself, Virgil becomes his guide, leading him on a long journey through the levels of Hell and showing him all that realm has to teach the immortal soul.
In Hell it is well understood that everyone is suffering justly for his sins. All punishment is equal to the measure of disobedience. While Dante was astray, he knew this was wrong, and he willingly takes up Vigil’s companionship to be put on the right road.
This book, and the others of the Divine Comedy, are allegories of the soul’s journey to God. It is heavily medieval Catholic in taste, and also includes a great deal of pagan references, such as Virgil’s Aeneid and other Greco-Roman works. It is beautiful, however, how Dante deals with God’s sovereignty in Hell and how all punishment is not malice on the Almighty’s part, but His good justice.
There is nakedness, famine, disease, pestilence, blood, and agony in Hell. All curses brought into the world by man’s sin are magnified in Hell. While the level of graphic description may vary from translator to translator, some passages can be disturbing, though Dante does an excellent job depicting the horror of man’s sin and how deeply God hates it.
Drug and Alcohol Content
There are drunkards mentioned and people given over to excess of drink. While Dante did not say that drunkenness leads a man to Hell, he depicts it as a symptom of man’s rebellious nature, and the biblical aspect of this can be found in the book of Proverbs.
There are many people who have given themselves up to the lusts of the flesh, including all sexual sins. These are in the Inferno as well, but are there for punishment. There is also nakedness mentioned, also in the context of suffering deprivation.
Crude or Profane Language or Content
People in Hell curse God, speak of their sinful lives on earth, and are no less wretched for their punishment than they were before they died.
Dante’s Inferno is a classic for good reason. Chock full of Greek and Roman references, deftly twisted in a biblical light, brimming with praise for God’s sovereign wisdom, the first installment of the Divine Comedy is a delight to read. It is both a commentary on the times in which the author lived and an enduring, allegorical treatise on the principles of Christianity. It is a must-read in the realm of classic literature.