Feb 28, 2010

In the 14th Century, Dante Alighieri wrote a masterful poem entitled Divine Comedy. It is broken up into three parts: Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. The first part of the poem, Inferno, is about a little journey taken by Dante through the different levels of Hell. At each level, also referred to as a circle, or ring, Dante encounters sinners that screwed up royally when they were alive. Now, they must spend eternity acting out some sort of symbolic penalty that mirrors the horrible deeds committed while they were amongst the living on Earth. Some of the people he runs into were well-known individuals, both alive and dead, during the time he wrote the poem. Whether or not you studied Inferno at some educational level, this poem resurfaces in some reference or another nearly 700 years later. I think it will be interesting to take a look at Dante’s Inferno from a “then and now perspective,” dust off the Judgment Hat, and figure out where people from the modern-era would end up in this version of Hell.

If you’re unfamiliar with how the circles of Hell are detailed, pretend that the Earth is cut in half. When you are alive, you are up on the surface of the Earth, just like you are today. If you’re a good boy or girl, when you die, you go up to the sky, which is Heaven. If you lived a bad life, when you kicked the bucket, you would spend the rest of your days at some level near the core of the Earth, or Hell. I went back and forth on creating a diagram to show how this all works, but decided to just include a few examples here instead. They can be hard to read, but you should get the idea.

Circle #1 - Limbo

Details: In the First Circle of Hell are those stuck in Limbo for eternity. Limbo is considered to be the edge of Hell, and is reserved for those who were either unbaptized or did not accept Jesus in their lives. In theory, they may have been “good” people but didn’t meet one of the two qualifications to make the journey into the light instead. It is described to be a place with green fields and meadows with a castle for those in Limbo to live in.

Old School Attendees: Virgil, Plato

Modern Day Partygoers: Tom Cruise. Poor Tom Cruise. Instead of believing in Jesus, he believes that the aliens that he battled in War of the Worlds will have a change of heart and come back to save him when his time is up, just like they supposedly reincarnated his body into a top gun pilot and action movie star. Sorry Tom, but Scientology is for suckers. Have fun playing limbo in Limbo with Gandhi & pals.

We’re all familiar with the references of Peter standing at the pearly gates allowing people into heaven. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hell’s gatekeeper is a big as dragon looking creature named Minos. Instead of checking off a shiny list and being the center of many joke punch lines like Peter is, Minos has a tail that he uses when he casts final judgment on sinners. The number of times he wraps the tail around his body represents the level of Hell that the next person up in line gets to rot in forever. Passing through the fiery gates of doom is the Second Circle of Hell.

Circle #2 – The Lustful

Details: The Second Circle of Hell is host to the people who made sex the #1 priority in their lives and God #2. As punishment, they are blown (no pun intended) around in the air by a strong wind with all the other nymphos, but are unable to make physical contact.

Old School Attendees: Francesa and Paolo. Cleopatra

Modern Day Partygoers: There are a lot of Hollywood whores that fit this bill. Cough. Paris Hilton. Cough. Cough. But I’m going to have to go with the toe thumb on this one, a la Megan Fox. I’m not sure who she is sleeping around with these days, but at one point she was dating 90210’s Brian Austin Green. In defense of getting dubbed one of The Lustful in the second circle of Hell, here is what Megan Fox had to say in an online interview with a men’s magazine, and I quote,
“I really enjoy having sex, and that’s offensive to some people. Women are the quickest to call other women sluts, which I think is sad…I haven’t met a lot of men who have said, ‘You like having sex? What a dirty whore you are.’ I’m young and have a lot of hormones—I’m always in the mood! But I like sex with one person when I’m in a relationship. Sex with random people who I’ve met at clubs is not really my thing…I have the libido of a 15-year-old boy. My sex drive is so high. I’d rather have sex with Brian all the time than leave the house. He doesn’t mind.”
In summary, she doesn’t want to leave the house, maybe to go to Church, and instead would prefer to stay home and have sex. That sounds like a Sex = Numero Uno, God = Number Dos, to me. Judges? Ding ding ding.

Moving on, we come to the Third Circle of Hell, Home of the Fat Bastards.

Circle #3 – The Gluttons

Details: The Third Circle of Hell is an “All-You-Can-Eat” buffet with nothing on the menu but a hot, stinking pile of shit. The circle is totally covered in poo. People are stuck in the dumpster juice up to the waist while crap rains on them from up above. This symbolizes the garbage they conjured up in life by spending their time consumed in food and drink. To top it off, they are guarded by three-headed dog named Cerbeus. He’s a cute little pooch and loves his milk bones.

Old School Attendees: Ciacco

Modern Day Partygoers: Sally Struthers.

This one is obvious. I’m sorry, but I can’t take an obese person seriously who asks for my hard-earned $1 to save the starving children in Africa. I wonder where all that cash is actually going? And what was Sally Struthers thinking? Surely she didn’t believe people would buy the “But think of the children…I know I’m pushing three bills, but poor Starvin’ Marvin is, well, starving. I’m not going to give him the ham hock I have duct taped to my back because I’m saving it for later, but maybe I can convince all the gullible people at home to send money my way and I’ll pretend to help, but instead continue eating and being a giant wildebeest for the rest of my life” routine.

Circle #4 – The Hoarders and The Spendthrifts

Details: The Fourth Circle of Hell is the final stop for the greedy people who didn’t think about anything else but money. It is split into two different categories of people. On one side are those that spent all the money they had on material goods and prioritized making more money to turn around and spend it again. An example of this type of act would be the people that bolt to the bank on payday to cash their check, and then make a pit stop at the liquor store on the way home to spend it all on booze for the weekend, only to repeat the process on the following payday. Another example would be the guy that gets laid off and gets a huge severance package, and then goes and blows it on a fancy car or motorcycle and then is back in the same financial situation, if not worse, than he was before. On the other end are the types of people that kept collections of some sort of prized possession or fortune of money and never shared it with others. An example of this would be a person that has a giant comic book or baseball card collection in their basement but won’t let anyone look at them. The punishment for being a greedy bastard in the fourth circle is a little difficult to explain, but it’s basically a never-ending battle between the two groups of people that smash giant boulders against one another.

Old School Attendees: Random clergymen, popes, cardinals

Modern Day Partygoers: Kenneth Lay, Enron Corporation. Nothing screams greed like the Enron Scandal. As the founder and CEO of the Enron Corporation, Kenneth Lay took advantage of accounting loopholes and practically wrote the book on unethical business practices. Eventually, it all backfired on him and around $11 billion dollars was lost by shareholders when it’s stocks fell through the roof. Not only was he focused on nothing but money, but he caused severe negative financial repercussions for all those who were employed or had investments in the company. In the fourth circle are also people who were guilty of both being a hoarder and a spender. These people were caught in the middle of the two groups as they smashed the giant boulders together. This would be where Ken will end up.

Come sail away towards the Fifth Circle of Hell on a swampy river named after the classic rock band, Styx…

Circle #5 – The Wrathful and The Sullen

Details: The Fifth Circle of Hell, much like its predecessor, contains two types of sinners; The Wrathful and The Sullen. These people have an on-going deathmatch against one another, but also against themselves. Scattered throughout the Styx River, The Wrathful bite and claw their own bodies. Their counterparts, The Sullen, lie at the bottom of the river, sulking for eternity.

Old School Attendees: Filippo Argenti

Modern Day Partygoers: Hollywood is filled up with short-tempered, angry, wrathful celebrities. Russell Crowe and Christian Bale come to mind, but they are too bad-ass and would have fought their way out of Hell if they ended up there. Instead, partying in the dirty Styx River would be the likes of people like Naomi Campbell, J-Lo, Shannon Doherty, Courtney Love, and Chris Brown. Each of these people have made headlines through their violent outbursts with either co-stars, significant others, or random people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. I’ll even throw Tyra Banks in here for shits and giggles just because her and Naomi duked it out. Not to point fingers, but these people will probably end up in Hell anyway, and this seems like a good place for them to tangle.

The Styx River separates Upper and Lower Hell. On the other side of the river is a city called Dis, home to a humongous castle, guarded by demons, and surrounded by fire and brimstone. Medusa hangs out here sometimes and turns any unfortunate people who happen to be lurking outside of the castle into stone.

Circle #6 – The Heretics

Details: The Sixth Circle of Hell houses The Heretics, convicted of heresy for denying the theory of an afterlife and that each person has a soul. I’ve always said that it’s better to believe in God, die, and find out that there isn’t a God, rather than not believing in God, die, and find out that there is in fact one. The sixth layer, located in the city of Dis, is when the punishments start getting much worse off. It is divided into two different parts. The first part is outside in the dry, barren grounds around the city. The ground is covered with shallow graves or pits just big enough for the body of an unfortunate heretic to fit in. The hole is encased in flame, and a hot cement slab is placed over the top of grave and the poor sap inside. The second part is inside a mausoleum in the city. It’s actually a nice, air conditioned spot, with music playing and paintings on the wall. Here are the unbelievers, trapped in their individual tombs. They can tell how good it is on the outside, but can’t do much about it since they are locked in a box. Shun the non-believers, shunnnnnnnnnn.

Old School Attendees: Farinata degli Uberti, Cavalcante de' Cavalcanti

Modern Day Partygoers: I came across a list of “notable individuals who have been public about their lack of belief in deities…who have no need for gods and some who have no need for the supernatural” at www.celebatheists.com. Each of them will have a fiery grave in the sixth layer. Here are some of the highlights: Woody Allen, Lance Armstrong, Warren Buffett,James Cameron, George Carlin, Adam Carolla, John Carpenter, Fidel Castro, Rodney Dangerfield, Larry Flynt, Jodie Foster, Janeane Garofalo, Bill Gates, Katharine Hepburn,Billy Joel, Angelina Jolie, Diane Keaton, Bruce Lee, James Lipton, Bill Maher, John Malkovich, Barry Manilow, Todd McFarlane, Sir Ian McKellen, Arthur Miller, Frank Miller, Marvin Minsky,Julianne Moore, Randy Newman, Mike Nichols, Jack Nicholson, Gary Numan, Keanu Reeves, Joe Rogan, Andy Rooney, Howard Stern, Ted Williams

Circle #7 – The Violent, the Suicides, the Blasphemers, the Sodomites, the Usurers

Details: The Seventh Circle of Hell is guarded by a pissed off Minotaur, who ironically, also suffers from anger and violence. It consists of three different kinds of rings; Violence against others, Violence against self, and Violence against God and nature.

The first ring is a river of boiling blood. People who were violent against others, such as murderers, are found here. The depth of the river that they must stand in is determined by how bad they were on Earth, varying between ankle deep and laying in the deep end.

The second ring is a forest that is filled up with harpies. A harpy is a half-man, half-bird like creature that is very pesky and annoying. People who committed suicide are reincarnated into trees in the second ring. The harpies beat on these trees, and snap off branches and twigs. They bleed, but grow back, and the cycle is repeated.

The third ring is a desert of burning sand. People who cursed God’s name, did the anal deed, or lent money at high interest rates are found here. The blasphemers have to lay on the hot sand while it rains burning sand on their bodies. The sodomites have to walk around the sands naked. The usurers are hidden behind layers of clothing and must walk around with giant bags of money dangling from their necks.

Old School Attendees: Alexander the Great, Pier delle Vigme, Emperor Frederick II

Modern Day Partygoers: The violence against others award goes to serial killers such as Ted Bundy, Charles Manson, Jeffrey Dahmer, and OJ Simpson. When I was in the 4th grade, I remember telling my teacher a joke about Jeffrey Dahmer along the lines of “Hey, do you know Dahmer just died in prison?” “No I didn’t know that.” “Yeah he did. His last words were ‘Eat me.’” Ohhh boy. And of course there’s the personal favorite line whenever someone is drinking orange juice, “You know, coffee is bad for you, but O.J. can kill ya!” The violence against self award goes to Kurt Cobain for the shotgun blast to the face. I don’t have any sympathy for people that commit suicide, so moving on. The violence against God or nature award goes to Credit Card companies. In the Godfather movie, Marlon Brando says “A lawyer can steal more with his briefcase than can a hundred guys with machine guns.” If you substitute lawyer with credit card companies, or other financial lending services for that matter, and you can make your own assumptions. Burn baby burn.

Circle #8 – The Fraudulent, the Pimps, the Seducers, the Corrupt, the Falsifiers, the Alchemists, the Thieves

Details: The Eighth Circle of Hell is home to all of those sinners that used fraud to take advantage of others. It is split into ten different ditches, called Bolgias, that each group of fraudulent people must wonder through. Some of these punishments range from: pimps walking forever in a line in one direction, and ho’s walk in a line in the other direction; false-advertisers wading through a big pile of crap; corrupt church officials buried head first in a hole and getting their feet lit on fire; fortune tellers having their heads twisted around backwards, and so on and so forth.

Old School Attendees: Jason, Ulysses, Pope Boniface VIII, Muhammad, Henry II,

Modern Day Partygoers: Miss Cleo. In the late 90s, a fat lesbian and self-proclaimed Jamaican psychic flashed across late-night television sets all over the U.S. While it is partially the faults of the idiots that called in and paid her money to get her bogus fortunes, Miss Cleo lied all the way to the bank, apparently earning over $10 million dollars. To top it off, she never paid any of her cast members, and said that she needed the money to treat a bone cancer that she never really had. There is a special place in Hell for people like this. Sorry Miss Cleo. But if you are as good as you claim to be, you should have seen it coming.

Circle #9 – The Sinners against family, the Betrayers, the Traitors against country

Details: The Ninth Circle of Hell includes those sinners that turned their backs on their family, their God, and their country. The traitors are cased in a frozen lake based on the severity of their treason. People that betrayed their family are frozen so that only their face is exposed from the frozen lake. People that betrayed their country are frozen up to their necks, so that only their heads are sticking above the ice. People that betrayed their guests or host have their backs frozen on the lake, and their eyes are sealed shut, iced over from all their tears. People who betrayed their benefactors are entirely frozen in ice.

Old School Attendees: Nimrod, Ephialtes

Modern Day Partygoers: The Hollywood scene is pretty calm when it comes to treason. Instead, I’ll go ahead and pick some people that are anti-war instead. Martin Sheen. Tim Robbins. Susan Sarandon. Dixie Chicks. Janeane Garofalo (if she made it out of the atheist circle of Hell).

Center of Hell

Details: In the center of Hell is the Devil himself. In Dante’s version, Satan has three mouths. In each mouth are the worst of the worst. He chews on them for infinity. It’s pretty bad stuff.

Old School Attendees: Brutus and Cassius, Julius Caesar, Judas

Modern Day Partygoers: Hitler. Insert Hitler paper that I discussed on an earlier blog that goes incredible detail on why he is in the mouth of Satan right here: ______________