Dante’s Inferno: Canto 4, CIRCLE ONE: Limbo; The Virtuous Pagans

Writing title: Dante’s Inferno
Canto: Canto 4; CIRCLE ONE: Limbo; The Virtuous Pagans

Artwork: Salvador Dali, Inferno: Canto 4

Canto 4 summary:

Dante wakes to find himself across Acheron. The Poets are now on the brink of Hell itself, which Dante conceives as a great funnel-shaped cave lying below the northern hemisphere with its bottom point at the earth’s center. Around this great circular depression runs a series of ledges, each of which Dante calls a CIRCLE. Each circle is assigned to the punishment of one category of sin. As soon as Dante’s strength returns, the Poets begin to cross the FIRST CIRCLE. Here they find the VIRTUOUS PAGANS. They were born without the light of Christ’s revelation, and, therefore, they cannot come into the light of God, but they are not tormented. Their only pain is that they have no hope. Ahead of them Dante sights a great dome of light, and a voice trumpets through the darkness welcoming Virgil back, for this is his eternal place in Hell. Immediately the great Poets of all time appear-HOMER, HORACE, OVID, and LUCAN. They greet Virgil, and they make Dante a sixth in their company. With them Dante enters the Citadel of Human Reason and sees before his eyes the Master Souls of Pagan Antiquity gathered on a green, and illuminated by the radiance of Human Reason. This is the highest state man can achieve without God, and the glory of it dazzles Dante, but he knows also that it is nothing compared to the glory of God.

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