The nine circles of Hell in Dante’s epic poem “Inferno” are Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Anger, Heresy, Violence, Fraud, and Treachery. On these circular levels, sinners are punished in accordance with their transgressions, with Limbo containing the mildest punishments and Treachery containing the worst.
In the poem, Beatrice, Dante’s deceased lover, sends the poet Virgil to accompany him through Hell. The tour, narrated by Virgil, begins at the highest level of Hell. Non-baptized souls and decent pagan souls are held in Limbo, which is not a realm of punishment but rather a place of gentleness that is not Heaven. The next four degrees are employed to punish self-indulgent sins, such as lust, gluttony, greed, and rage. Levels six and seven are used to punish sins of violence, particularly violence against God like as heresy and blasphemy. Lastly, levels eight and nine punish individuals who have committed fraud or treason.
“Inferno” is the opening poem of “The Divine Comedy,” which is a metaphor of a sinner’s journey to God. Furthermore, the penalties on each level of Hell are symbolic and designed to punish sinners in hilariously appropriate ways, based on their misdeeds. In a sense, the sinner choose his own punishment. Literature contains several references to Dante’s work, such as John Keats’ sonnet “On A Dream,” which mentions the winds employed to punish the lusty.