Dante's Inferno

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri was written in the period from 1306-1321. It represents an encyclopedic overview of the attitudes, beliefs, philosophies, and material aspects of the medieval Italy that Dante was a native of. The Divine Comedy is universally known as one of the greatest oratory poems in world literature. In a letter to his Veronan benefactor, Can Grande della Scala, Dante writes, 'It is an attempt to remove those living in this life from the state of misery and lead them to the state of felicity.' He further described his work as 'polysemous', specifying the principal levels of meaning as both literal and allegorical.

The Divine Comedy consists of three sections: Inferno (The Inferno), Purgatorio (The Purgatory), and Paradiso (Paradise). Only Inferno is included in this area. It describes the poet's journey through Hell from the lowest and least harsh level to the final destination of being face to face with Lucifer (Satan), and ascending once more to the Earth.

Hell, in Dante's version, is meticulously organized and sinners are placed according to their primary crimes and the general nature of their sins in life. The final level is that of ultimate justice which transforms into merciless retribution and affects the unrepentant.

For Legend's version of Inferno, Kae primarily used Dorothy L. Sayer's excellent annotated translation.