One of my favorite pieces of literature is Dante’s Inferno. For those of you who are not familiar with it, the Inferno is the first part of the Divine Comedy written by Dante Alghieri in the 14th century. It is essentially Dante’s tour of the nine circles of suffering (hell) as led by Virgil.
The first time I read the Inferno, I was in 10th grade. Even then, I knew that this would be one of my all time favorites. I think the reason why I liked it so much is that it is very clear on what the rules are and what the repercussions are should you break them. It really does appeal to my moral compass…
One of my favorite parts, is actually in the beginning…the vestibule of hell.
And I, who had my head with horror bound,
Said:”Master, what is this which now I hear?
What folk is this, which seems by pain so vanquished?”
And he to me:”This miserable mode
Maintain the melancholy souls of those
Who lived withouten infamy or praise…”
-Dante’s Inferno: Canto 3
In the vestibule of hell were the souls of those who in life did not make a choice for good or evil. Neither in hell or out of it, they were doomed to chase a banner and be stung by hornets and wasps while maggots ate their blood and tears for all eternity.
Definitely not a pretty sight.
When I hear people say things such as “it doesn’t matter what I do because the end result will be the same” or “it doesn’t affect me so I am not going to do anything”, it makes me think of the vestibule of hell.
Throughout our lives, we have to make certain choices. Some of these choices bear more importance than others, but they are choices nonetheless. By disassociating ourselves from the issue to remove responsibility or blame from ourselves, we are like those uncommitted who are neither good enough to be good or bad enough to be evil.
And I am sure there is a punishment for that…
Maybe it won’t be hornets and maggots, but here on earth there must be a punishment for that.