Virgil’s spirit remains in Limbo for
eternity because of his circumstances, not of his actions. Unfortunately, he
came before the time of baptism and of Jesus, thus there was no proper way to
worship God. On the contrary, Dante is fortunate enough to have been born after
the coming of Jesus. Along with Virgil, Plato, Socrates, Aristotle and many
more famous poets and artists who lived before Christianity all share a common
home. Limbo is a place that does not torment its inhabitants, rather a place
that is devoid of God’s love, leaving an eerie emptiness across its plains.
Thus, even though the Virgin Mary chooses Virgil to guide Dante through Hell,
they both are aware of Virgil’s un-holiness. Perhaps some of the most
influential and virtuous people of the past live in the limbo, and just as
Virgil, they all long for God’s love which will never be returned.
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The reason that the sin in the
lower levels of Hell is more significant than the higher levels is that it depends
on how much the sin offends God. For example, the sin of the last circle in
Hell is that of treacherous fraud, a place filled with traitors of country,
kin, and even benefactors. In comparison, the sins of the upper level include
crimes committed out of excess passion or desire. Such sins can be compared to primitivity,
or the indulgence of natural compulsions. Using rationality, the sin of lusting
over a woman while on Earth is much smaller than that of murdering a fellow
politician for power. Therefore, just as the sins vary in graveness, so too
does God’s offense to the commitment of them. This brings light to the shape
and construction of Hell to Dante, as the deeper he ventures into Hell, the
more serious both the sins and the punishments get.
The first of the three people
in Satan’s mouth is Judas Iscariot, the infamous disciple who betrayed Jesus.
Judas is a sinner of the highest degree, a man of treacherous fraud who sold
out Jesus in exchange for money. The other two individuals, Cassius and Brutus,
are infamous for their plotting and betrayal of Julius Caesar. These
individuals suffer their eternal agony as they are responsible for committing
the gravest of sins—fraud of benefactors. While those who betrayed common people
suffer in the ice of the last ring, those who committed treachery against a benefactor,
or an ally, pay the ultimate price. According to the Romans, the unforgivable sin
is fraud. Because God has given humans to ability to reason and speak with one another,
the manipulation of that gifts, fraud, is what displeases God the very most. Ultimately,
these three traitors spend eternity in the mouths of Satan due to their unforgivable
manipulation of God’s greatest gift.