Snakes Of Time In Dante's Hell

1345 words - 5 pages

"Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit” (Romans 3:13). Snakes have been a universal symbol of fraud in literature since “The Fall,” when God transformed Satan into a beguiling snake and “[c]ursed” Satan to slide “on [his] belly” for all eternity for his deception (Alter 41). Dante uses snakes in his epic poem, the Inferno, to tie the fraudulent nature of thieves to their punishment in the seventh bolgia of the eighth circle of Hell. Snakes have metaphorically slithered through time and shed, taking on new appearances as deceivers in society. In 2005, they revealed a new face, Olatunji Oluwatosin, an identity thief. From his base in Los Angeles, Olatunji Oluwatosin stole private information, such as credit card numbers, of hundreds of United States citizens from the national database ChoicePoint. Oluwatosin, utilizing the snake’s deceptive arts, remained undetected when he began; however, as his crimes progressed, people became aware of his crimes, leading to his eventual capture. Oluwatosin’s crime shows the complex relationship between modern identity thieves and the serpentine thieves of Dante’s Hell. By avoiding detection and transforming, Oluwatosin effectively mutated into a snake until an eventual punishment that embraces Dante’s ideal of contrapasso.
Identity thieves avoid detection by presenting the face of an honest man. Olatunji Oluwatosin could persist in his crime as long as he maintained a different persona. However, James Garrett, a Los Angeles resident, reported to the police that a credit card “in his name had been redirected to another address,” an act which began Detective Duane Decker’s pursuit of Oluwatosin (O’Harrow). During his investigation, detective Decker realized that a customer requested ChoicePoint to send information to a local Kinko’s and that “similar requests had recently been made by others in the Los Angeles area” (O’Harrow). Decker arranged a sting operation to catch this culprit. Caught in this operation, Oluwatosin “dropped the paperwork he had just received” in terror and was taken to the Los Angeles Country Superior Court, where he received an appropriate punishment of “ten years in prison” under charges of identity theft (O’Harrow, Mimoso). Similarly, Dante’s Inferno forces the “naked and terrified” thieves to run from venomous snakes with their “hands behind their backs,” “without a hope of hiding” (Alighieri 251). The thieves who once were concealing themselves are now exposed. Moreover, with Oluwatosin’s numerous stolen identities, his crimes resemble the “chelydri and jaculi, phareans, cenchres, and head-tailed amphisbenes” of Libya (251). Oluwatosin assumed these identities to camouflage himself, much as snakes do in their environment. However, once apprehended, both the thieves of Dante’s fourteenth century Italy and today’s society must endure punishment. As the United States court system sentenced Oluwatosin to ten years in prison, Dante Alighieri arranges a more extreme...

Find Another Essay On Snakes of Time in Dante's Hell

Specificity of Punishment in Dante's Inferno

1595 words - 6 pages One of the most famous and often used lines from Dante's Inferno comes from the inscription found above the gates of Hell. It speaks of enduring suffering eternally, and warns the condemned to "abandon every hope" (Canto III.9). Although God fashioned these gates Himself, the inscription seems to imply that He has no power in Hell. The condemned are warned not to hold out hope for anything, including the hand of God Himself. Although it could be

The Contrapasso of Caiaphas in Dante's Inferno

642 words - 3 pages In Canto XXIII of Dante's Inferno, the hypocrites, especially Caiaphas, provide an excellent example of Divine Justice as contrapasso. The hypocrites presented their ideas as pure and good, while in reality, they did not act according to their supposed morality or practice the virtues that they preached. Because in life, the hypocrites said one thing and did another, their heavy garments seem one thing and are, yet another. The ornate

Variations of Hell in Classical Literature

1460 words - 6 pages Everyone has different perspectives and ideas about what Hell is. This is especially true in The Odyssey, The Aeneid, and The Inferno. First, in The Odyssey, Homer’s explanation of Hell was very basic and contained the dead and was very dark and sad. Then, in The Aeneid, Virgil offered a more vivid and descriptive explanation of Hell that also explained that the souls of those who pass are being punished for their sins on Earth. Finally, in

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

Francesca's Style in Canto V of Dante's Inferno

5171 words - 21 pages Francesca's Style in Canto V of Dante's Inferno Canto V of Dante's Inferno begins and ends with confession. The frightening image of Minos who «confesses» the damned sinners and then hurls them down to their eternal punishment contrasts with the almost familial image of Francesca and Dante, who confess to one another. In a real sense confession seems to be defective or inadequate in Hell. The huddled masses who declare their sins

Dante's Inferno: Consequence of Sin in Modern Times

1319 words - 5 pages will result in a soul’s eternal suffering in Hell. In the Inferno from the Divine Comedy Dante Alighieri uses symbols to emphasize the dangers of sin. A person’s actions are a reflection of the society in which they live. Every day, humans are influenced by several outside factors such as music, television, and other humans. When a child is born, they are a blank canvas waiting to be painted, and society is the artist. Society evolves the way a

Dante's Inferno: The Theme of Anti-love in Canto XXVIII

1643 words - 7 pages Dante’s Divine Comedy is a multi-layered epic, containing not only a story about his incredibly difficult journey from earth to the depths of hell then up to the peaks of heaven, but it also contains many insights on theology, politics, and even his own life. Broken into three canticles—Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso—the work is written in the terza rima form. In Inferno—in 33 Cantos—Dante makes a vast journey through the nine circles of

Visions of Hell in the Final Decades of Russia

809 words - 3 pages Visions of Hell in the Final Decades of Russia In the final decades of Russia, Dostoevsky saw what he believed to be the seeds of the unraveling of Russian society. He feared and resented the growing waves of people he believed to be young, rebel intellectuals who were smitten by materialism and selfish philosophies, but cared little for their fellow man. Convinced that a complete disassociation from others would be the ultimate

journeyhod Journey into Hell in Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

958 words - 4 pages of darkness' is reminiscent of Guido's journey into hell in Dante's Inferno, with these literary allusion always present, through forms of intense imagery. The landscape takes on a hellish nature and the wilderness is personified. Death is omnipresent and this is reflected in the death imagery used to describe the cities of Brussels and London, the Congo region and Kurtz' station. The hypocrisy of 'society' and 'civilization' is reflected in the

The Role of Satan in Dante's Inferno and Specifically in Paradise Lost

2432 words - 10 pages The source of all evil, a terrifying entity, and the adversary of God in an eternal war for the souls of mankind, Satan is often put forward as a powerful “other,” having little in common with those he tempts and torments. For example, in Dante’s Inferno, Satan is massive, strong and beast-like, chained like Cerberus in Hell for the punishment of mankind, chewing on the bodies of history’s greatest traitors like a vicious dog. Milton's relatable

Descriptions of Hell's Structure in Canto 21 of Dante's Divine Comedy

1191 words - 5 pages because it emitted a sinister aura when the harm done cannot be seen by the naked eye. In addition, we have to consider Dante's era when superstition reigned, and the unknown was more sinister than the visible. The follow-up question to be answered is why there were the various divisions of hell. In other words, Dante asked Virgil why other sinners did not receive the same degree of punishment since they too have gone against the divine will of

Similar Essays

Hell In Dante's Divine Comedy Essay

1415 words - 6 pages Hell in the divine Comedy and Aeneid In Dante’s Divine Comedy, Dante incorporates Virgil’s portrayal of Hades (In The Aeneid) into his poem, and similarities between the Inferno and Hades can be drawn, however Dante wasn’t attempting to duplicate Virgil’s works. Although the Hell depicted in Dante’s Inferno is essentially based on the literary construction of the underworld found in Virgil’s Aeneid, in their particulars the two

Analysis Of The Levels Of Dante's Hell

1112 words - 5 pages It is hard to place St. Augustine within just one of the levels of Dante’s hell for his sins were varied and not great. Today many of his sins are ordinary. For example, most people attempt to better their own lives without regard of others. They attempt to increase their standard of living and gain more worldly possessions. They are neither good nor evil but are just trying to make a living and keep up in today’s society. Before Augustine’s

Dante's Inferno: The Levels Of Hell

1244 words - 5 pages Dante's Inferno: The Levels of Hell Level One According to Dante, there are various levels in hell. The first level in Hell is called Limbo. All the individuals who die before being baptized and those who live as virtuous pagans are condemned to spend the rest of eternity at this level. The people being referred to in this level are those who die before accepting Christianity. All the individuals who die non-Christians, including philosophers

This Essay Is About The Punishment Of Those With "Unnatural Tendencies" In The Third Ring Of The Seventh Circle Of Hell In Dante's "Inferno."

2408 words - 10 pages Intro: (This essay is about the punishment of those with "unnatural tendencies" in the third ring of the seventh circle of Hell in Dante's "Inferno." The Professor's assignment relied heavily on looking closely at the meanings of specific words in only a small part of one canto so, in short, I had to expound or go deeper on few words.)In lines 36-42, 48, 53-60 of Canto XV of Dante's Inferno, Dante is walking through the third ring of the Seventh