At the start of the poem we find Dante in the dark forest(Inf. 1.2). Not much description is given maybe to show Dante’s disorientation. Whether the disorientation is spiritual, physical, moral or political; that is unclear at the start of the poem. The poem us written this way so reader can identify with Dante. It is also written in such a way that sometimes it is difficult to understand some parts, you sometimes have to read it backwards to get a better understanding.
The way Dante characterizes the dark woods has a lot of ideas taken from various traditions. This ranges from the medieval Platonic image of chaos, this is shown as a type of primordial wood. There is the enterance to the classic underworld (Hades), which is in the forest, this is descrided by Virgil( Dante’s guide through Hell)(Aeneid 6.179
One of the first symbolism in the poem is the three beast a leopard, a lion and a she-wolf. After one reads the whole poem one can look back and see them as the three major divisions of Dante’s hell, concupiscence( desires), violence, and fraud. It could also be three of the seven deadly sins envy, pride(the worst of all sins), and avarice(greed). The she-wolf could have some political meaning since it was a she-wolf who took care of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. Though those are all possibilities the most likely case is Dante drew from the biblical passage "Wherefore a lion out of the wood hath slain them, a wolf in the evening hath spoiled them, a leopard watcheth for their cities: every one that shall go out thence shall be taken, because their transgressions are multiplied, their rebellions strengthened" (Jeremiah 5:6).
Vergil the Roman poet works as a guide for Dante as he descends into the underworld. Dante was inspired by two parts of Vergil’s epic Aeneid, book 4 and book 6, book six was about Aeneas visit to the underworld, Dante uses many thing from this to shape his own version of hell. Virgil also wrote ten pastoral poems; Eclogues, the fourth of which talks about the birth of a wonderful child and that was thought to be a prophet of the birth of Jesus.
In Canto 11 of the Inferno Virgil explains to Dante that violent sins, sins of violence, takes three forms other people, ones self, and God (28-33). The people who commit crimes against other are punishes in the first ring of the seventh circle, a river of blood (Inferno 12) Those people who commit suicide, those who commit crimes unto themselves are punished in a horrid forest (Inferno 13). The ring for the people who commit crimes against God, the third ring is a barren places all of sand ignited by flakes of fire. To break this circle down more, there are those who offend God directly(blasphemers), those who violate nature(sodomites) and those who are users(Inferno 14-17).
The way Dante shows sodomy, it is understood that it is sexual relation between males, but that doesn’t make it homosexual. At that time in the Middle...