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Human Traditions
Home | Gilgamesh | The Odyssey and Oedipus the King | The Inferno

The Inferno

Monsters appearing in The Inferno

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Lucifer:

Could their be a bigger monster than the prince of Hell? Lucifer resides in the Ninth (and final) Circle of Hell. He is an enormous giant with three faces; but does not speak. His three mouths are busy chewing three of history’s greatest traitors: Judas, the betrayer of Christ, and Cassius and Brutus, the betrayers of Julius Caesar



Minos:

He stands in the second circle of Hell and is described by Dante as a giant beast. It is Minos who decides which circle the sinners will be sent to for their torment. After Minos hears the sinners confession, he will wrap his tail around his body, and the number of times it wraps around indicates the circle in which the sinner will spend enternity.




Geryon:

Dante encounters this monster when it transports Dante and Virgil from the Seventh to Eighth circle of hell.

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In The Inferno, Dante and Virgil encounter several monsters. It seems in this story, the monsters are there to provoke fear and warn against sinners. Dante does not need to overcome or overpower these monsters; It is more like he is on a tour of Hell, guided along by Virgil on the way to heaven.




In all of these stories, these monsters are inhuman and threatening. But in being so, they help these various characters find humanity. Gilgamesh is tempted to let Humbaba live when he pleads for his life, but Enkidu convinces him that he will not keep his word. Some monsters, like the sphinx in Oedipus the King and the Odyssey, lead to an important series of events. Because he solved the riddle and because Odysseus blinded the Cyclops, Oedipus moved along to his eventual tragic fate and Odyessys continued on his adventures.