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"All hope abandon, ye who enter in!" reads the now famous words above the gate through which Dante, the protagonist of the Inferno, crosses the threshold. But that forbidding inscription applies only to those who have no faith. It does not apply to Dante. He begins a journey down into Hell in which terror and confusion transform into an understanding of the divine plan and the realization of divine love. We the readers place faith in him to represent us in finding our way through the Inferno to come out the other side enlightened.
For his fateful journey through the perilous terrain of the Inferno, Dante is lead by Virgil, the great poet of classical Rome. They begin at the dark and savage wood near the Inferno entrance and then enter into its nine circles going deeper, one after another, in sin. Along the way, Dante meets an array of sinners from Christian and classical history and legend. Dante also meets his Italian contemporaries, chief among them, Florentines and neighboring Tuscans. These sinners were those whose factiousness and greed had severed the civic bonds and wrecked Florence and Tuscany, and Dante the author's own life there, and undermined peace.
From The Eternal Rain to The Frozen Lake of Cocytus, from The Furies and Medusa to Count Ugolino and the Archbishop Ruggieri, the Inferno continues to fascinate readers since it was first published in 1317.