The Circles of Hell
Dante's Inferno

The Levels of Hell

In Dante's Inferno, Hell is described as having 9 different levels, or circles, each lower than the last. As one descends into the depths of hell, he comes closer to the 9th circle where Satan himself resides. Each level of hell is reserved for different types of sinners, and different punishments are inflicted on the damned depending on the nature and severity of their sin. The greater their sin, the lower the level to which they are condemned to spend eternity.

The Nine Circles of Hell

The Nine Circles of Hell
The Nine Circles of Hell

1st Level: The First Circle of Hell

On the first level, also called Limbo, reside those who died before being baptized as well as virtuous pagans who lived and died before the birth of Christ. Here can be found poets and philosophers from the pagan world such as Virgil, Homer, Horace, Ovid, Socrates, Plato and, surprisingly (considering that he led the Arab armies against the Christian crusaders) the Moslem leader Saladin.

2nd Level: The Second Circle of Hell

In the second level of hell, are confined the sinners who were guilty of the sin of lust. Their souls are blown about in a violent storm without hope of rest.

3d Level: The Third Circle of Hell

Those who are guilty of gluttons are condemned to the third level of hell. Here the gluttons are forced to eat vile filth.

4th Level: The Fourth Circle of Hell

The fourth circle is reserved for those who were guilty of avarice and prodigality (spendthrifts). Their punishment is to knock great rocks together eternally. Plutus, the Greek god, guards them.

5th Level: The Fifth Circle of Hell

Those guilty of wrath and sullenness spend eternity suffering for their sins in the fifth level of hell. The angry ones eternally fight each other on the surface of the river styx, while the sullen ones gurgle beneath the waters.

6th Level: The Sixth Circle of Hell

In the 6th level of hell, heretics are trapped in flaming tombs.

7th Level: The Seventh Circle of Hell

The seventh level of hell is reserved for those who are guilty of violence, whether it be against themselves, property, nature, or other people. Here are tormented the sodomites, the suicides, the usurers, and blasphemers.

8th Level: The Eighth Circle of Hell

The Eighth Level of Hell is for those guilty of fraud: the thieves, liars, cheats, sorcerers and false prophets.

9th Level: The Ninth Circle of Hell

Treachery is punished in the 9th and lowest level of hell. Those who have betrayed a special relationship in committing their crimes are condemned to the lowest and most horrific level. And the three greatest betrayers in history: Judas, Brutus, and Cassius are at the very center of hell, in the ever devouring mouths of Satan.

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