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From a three-headed dog to the devil himself: most terrible monsters in Dante’s Divine Comedy

From a three-headed dog to the devil himself: most terrible monsters in Dante's Divine Comedy 1

There is no person who has not heard of the “Divine Comedy” by the Italian poet Dante Alighieri. The poem is considered one of the greatest assets of literature and culture. It describes the author’s own journey through the afterlife: Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. 

Hell according to Dante is not just a place where all sinners go, but a world well thought out to the smallest detail, which has its own structure, rules, types of punishments and guards. Each circle of Hell has guards (there are nine of them in total) – mythical monsters who are also punished to stay in hell and carry out their service. Dante’s Hell is the abode of a wide variety of monsters: from a three-headed dog to the devil himself. We present the most terrible monsters of Hell from the “Divine Comedy”.

Cerberus is a three-headed dog from Greek mythology. Among the Greeks, he guards the entrance to the Kingdom of the Dead. In Dante’s Divine Comedy, the dog is the guardian of the third circle of Hell, where gluttons, gluttons and gourmets go. Their punishment is rotting and decay under the scorching sun and pouring rain.

Furies – Erinyes in Greek myths, three implacable goddesses of revenge and hatred (Tisiphone, Megaera and Alecto). They guard the sixth circle of Hell, the walls of the city of Dita, and make fun of heretics and false teachers.

The Minotaur is the guardian of the seventh circle, a Cretan monster, which is a creature with the body of a man and the head of a bull. In ancient Greek mythology, he was the son of Pasiphae, daughter of the god Helios, and a bull. The Minotaur lived in the Labyrinth, where he was killed by Theseus. He guards the seventh circle, the city of Dith, where those who committed violence live.

Harpies are half-women, half-birds who guard those trapped in Tartarus, the abyss under the Kingdom of the Dead (according to Greek mythology). According to Dante, harpies torment suicides caught in the seventh circle of Hell, in the Forest of Suicides.

Geryon is a giant from Greek myths with six arms, six legs and wings. He guards the eighth circle of Hell, in which deceivers, bribe-takers, false witnesses, flatterers, fortune-tellers, hypocrites, thieves and crafty advisers languish.

Raking demons are “demons with hooks,” winged demons who guard sinners in the fifth ditch of the eighth circle of Hell. Bribers and bribe takers go there. Demons must hold sinners with pitchforks, preventing them from emerging from the fiery river Phlegethon.

Briareus is the guardian of the ninth circle of Hell, the icy Lake Cocytus, in which the souls of traitors languish. A monster with fifty heads and one hundred arms.

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Antaeus is a giant, the son of Gaia, the Greek goddess of the earth, and Poseidon , the god of the seas. Just like Briareus, he guards the ninth circle of Hell. During his lifetime he was the king of Libya. The invincible Antaeus was killed by Hercules.

Ephialtes is the twin brother of Otha, a giant distinguished by his violent temper and enormous strength. Along with his twin, he held Ares, the god of war, captive. In Hell, Dante guards the traitorous sinners.

Lucifer is the devil, a fallen angel is in the center of Hell, frozen into an icy lake. He tortures sinners trapped in the ninth circle of Hell. Lucifer has three faces: red, black and white-yellow. They are the personification of anger, envy and powerlessness. Accordingly, in the three mouths of the fallen angel are the three greatest traitors in the history of mankind – Judas, Brutus and Cassius.


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