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  • Gail Wilson Kenna

Fraud as the Eighth Circle of Hell in Dante’s Inferno

This week I would like to revisit an earlier blog about the first book of The Divine Comedy, which Dante Alighieri completed early in the 14th century. By the time of his death in September of 1321, he had completed the third part, Paradiso, published posthumously.

Are you wondering how this is relevant in 2024? I can only hope you watched an amazing PBS two-part presentation (two hours each night) of Dante’s Divine Comedy. If you missed it this past week, search PBS Passport. It is an enactment I want to see and to read again. (Do put on the captions!)

The following words were ones I wrote in 2023 to the delight of some and the outrage of others.

Have we not heard ‘fraud’ lately, this word with its origin in Middle English? Hasn’t the word resonated outward from New York City? The legal F word as it were. But only D words for the deplorable, despicable, disreputable, disgraceful man on trial for fraud. A demon with a Sharpie, not the sword of Dante’s demon who perpetually circles Scandal and Schism in the ninth ring of the 8th circle. After the 8th, the 9th circle leads to the Pit (or Well) of Hell. What a place it is, with its four rings, all named under the title, Treachery, about traitors to homeland, political party, guests, and benefactors.

Please understand that I’ve skipped the first seven circles of Hell. But I will name them. Limbo, The Lustful, The Gluttonous, The Avaricious & Prodigal, the Wrathful & Sullen, and The Violent. The latter ring includes murderers & tyrants, and those against neighbors, themselves (suicides) and possessions (squanderers).

It is the 8th circle titled Fraud that interests me. Yet the name given to it, which takes in all its rings, is Malebolge. Word 11 does not recognize this word, though the OED does. This word describes the 8th circle of hell as consisting of ten rock-bound concentric, circular trenches. As used in the past, malebolge meant a hellish place or condition. Maybe we ought to bring the word back as an apt description for Congress. Take a few minutes and study the list of those in the 8th circle of Hell. We recognize all of them, don’t we? Maybe not Simonists from Dante’s time, and the selling of ecclesiastical privileges. But think of the Big D selling presidential pardons. Look at each of the ten rings and get a visual image to match them. I see fraudulent counselors down there in Georgia admitting their guilt. I await Rudy sweating more dark dye. Falsifiers of Metals, Persons, Coins, and Words makes me think of Sam the Bit Coin Man! Please share with me some of your thoughts after seeing this diagram of the Inferno.( I enjoy messages from readers.)

Oh, Dante Alighieri, I won’t forget being in Ravenna in the early 1980s and standing in the crypt that contains your remains. Forget bones. You left us The Divine Comedy, and I mean to read it all this time, beginning with the Inferno by Allen Mandelbaum, whose translation is called, “The English Dante of choice.”  

Until next week and thoughts on Marilynn Robinson’s latest book.



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Mar 25

Hypocrite - M McConnell

Scandal sowers - T Carlson

Falsifies - Madoff, J Belfort “wolf of wall st

Fraud council - p Navarro

Thieves - too many to namer

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