An Act Of Passion: Dido In Hell

753 words - 4 pages

In Dante’s Inferno, Queen Dido of Carthage, a character from Virgil’s Aeneid, was placed where souls are “damned because they sinned within the flesh…” (5.38). Those moved to sin by their passions were subjected to the torment of eternal winds. This punishment conflicts with the worldly actions of Dido as her actions in life were punishable by entrance into the seventh circle; the region of hell where those who commit suicide are reduced to thorny trees with no hope of resurrection in the second coming of Christ. Queen Dido was not placed in the realm of the suicides because her suicide did not define her character and was not a product of her soul’s corruption. Through this juxtaposition ...view middle of the document...

” (IV. 898, 920) Her suicide differs from that of the other queen mentioned in the Aeneid in that she eventually found resolution between her two selves by overcoming the gentle wife of Aeneas with her old self, passionate self, the warrior queen. As a soul in Virgil’s afterlife, she identifies with her previous life and as bride of her previously murdered husband. This strength of character and resolution on the part of Queen Dido served to emphasize that her passion, not her passing, was the overwhelming sin.
Being buffeted throughout Dante’s hell, eternally joined with her partner, Dido is punished for allowing herself to be consumed by her passions. This emphasis on the punishment reflecting her internal state is subtly repeated further on the journey of Dante through the underworld. The circles of hell closest to the domain the greatest evil, treachery and the region of Lucifer, contain those whose sins have little effect on anyone. The counterfeiters, liars, and frauds, all of which seem harmless in comparison to murderers, are given immensely more grand tortures such as being stabbed by demons and immersed in boiling pitch.
This discrepancy is...

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