Notes on The Inferno Themes

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The Inferno Topic Tracking: God’s Will

Canto III

God's Will 1: Charon, the ferryman of the Acheron, refuses to allow Dante into his boat, but Virgil convinces him by saying God wills it and what God wills is done. Charon assents but is angered.

Canto VII

God's Will 2: Plutus gibbers uncontrollably in anger when the Poets enter his ring of Hell, but when Virgil tells him they are moved by the will of God, Plutus collapses.

Canto VII

God's Will 3: In the fourth ring, Virgil and Dante discuss the goddess Fortune. Virgil says God ordained Fortune to govern the destinies of men on earth and she does not follow the rules of human reason or respond to human efforts. Therefore the struggles of the avaricious are futile because what they gain or retain ultimately depends on what Fortune and indirectly God wills.

Canto IX

God's Will 4: An angel from Heaven rebukes the fallen angels who guard the entrance to the City of Dis for their insolent attempt to stop the Poets in their journey. He says the will of God is never frustrated, and their attempts to rebel only add to their suffering.

Canto XIX

God's Will 5: The third ring of the eighth circle holds the simonists, who sold spiritual things. A series of Popes suffer here. And Dante rebukes emperor Constantine, who instituted Christianity as the national religion, for rewarding Popes monetarily.

Canto XXVI

God's Will 6: Dante reminds himself as he approaches the next seventh chasm of the eighth circle, which holds evil counselors, that he must not obtain deliverance for himself and Florence through fraud. He believes he may be inclined to use fraudulent means to achieve honorable goals.


God's Will 7: Count Guido da Montefeltro agrees to give Pope Boniface VIII evil advise after securing his forgiveness for the sinful act. However, God only forgives those who repent, not those who bargain for the Pope’s official ablutions. Guido finds himself in Hell because one cannot repent before actually performing a sin.


God's Will 8: Through his character Mahomet, Dante, the author, exhorts one of his contemporaries, Fra Dolcino, to curb his religiously divisive actions. He also places the initiator of the Guelf-Ghibelline schism in the depths of Hell.

Canto XXXI

God's Will 9: Mythological giants are imbedded in the walls of the ninth circle of Hell. They are punished by God for rebelling against the mythological gods.


God's Will 10: As Dante nears the end of his journey through Hell he begins to treat the sinners without mercy. He promises to remove the ice from Friar Alberigo’s eyes if he tells him his sin, and then refuses to fulfill the promise after he tells his story.


God's Will 11: In the nadir of Hell Satan is frozen with three sinners in his mouth: Judas, who betrayed Christ and Brutus and Cassius, who betrayed Cæsar. These three sinners are given equal status in Dante’s Hell.

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