Guide to Dante’s Inferno

My humble attempt to map out one of literature’s greatest arenas of the imagination. Enjoy.

Map of Dante’s Inferno

Vestibule (The Futile and the Pusillanimous) – Celestine V / Pontius Pilate (text unclear) – Chase after an ever-moving banner while stung by wasps, insects etc.

Upper Hell

Circle One / Limbo (The Noble Pagans) – Denied entry to heaven, no further punishment

Poets – Homer, Horace, Virgil, Ovid, Lucan

Amazon Queen – Penthesilia

Old Testament figures – Jacob

Mathematicians / scientists  – Euclid, Pedanius Dioscordes

Statesmen – Cicero, Julius Caesar

Physician – Hippocrates

Philosophers – Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Averroes

Historical figures – Lucretia, Lucius Junius Brutus, Saladdin

Mythological characters – Hector, Electra, Camilla, Latinus, Orpheus

Minos (the judge)

Circle Two (The Lustful)  – Blown around by raging winds

Mythological characters – Semiramis, Dido, Helen of Troy, Achilles, Paris, Tristan,

Historical characters – Cleopatra, Francesca da Ramini and her lover Paolo Malatesta


Circle Three (The Gluttonous) – Forced to lie in filthy slush, battered by freezing rain and mauled by Cerberus

Contemporary characters – ‘Ciacco’ (which means ‘Hog’)


Circle Four (The Avaricious and the Prodigal) – Forced to ceaselessly roll huge stones against each other

Historical / Contemporary characters – Various unnamed clergymen, cardinals, popes etc)

River Styx / Phlegyas the ferryman

Circle Five (The Wrathful and the Sullen) – The former fight each other on the surface of the river; the latter are buried beneath its murky depths

Contemporary characters – Philippo Argenti (a Black Guelph who in real life confiscated Dante’s property following his exile)

The Furies / Medusa (guards)

City of Dis – Lower Hell

Circle Six (The Heretical)  – Imprisoned in burning tombs

Historical characters – Epicurus and his followers, the Holy Roman Emperor Frederick II, Pope Anastasius II

Contemporary characters – Farinata degli Uberti, Cavalcante de Cavalcanti (Epicureans)

Minotaur (Guard)

Circle Seven (The Violent) – subdivided into three:

a) Against people and property – Imprisoned in Phlegathon, a boiling lake of blood and fire, perimeter guarded by centaurs.

Historical characters – Dionysius I of Syracuse, Guy de Montford, Ezzelina III da Romano, Attila the Hun

b) Against themselves (suicides) – Transformed into trees and pecked at by harpies

Historical characters – Pietro della Vigne (who killed himself after falling out of favour with Frederick II)

c) Against God and nature (blasphemers / sodomites / usurers – Condemned to stay in a desert of flaming sand with fire raining from the sky

Mythological characters – Capaneus (struck down by Zeus for blasphemy)

Historical / contemporary characters – Brunetto Lattini (Dante’s tutor / sodomite) and the usurers Catello di Rosso Gianfigliazzi, Guido Guerra, Ciappo Ubriachi,  Giovanni di Buiamonte and Reginaldo degli Scrovegni


Circle Eight (The Fraudulent) – ‘Maleboge’ divided into ten bolgias

a) Bolgia One – Panderers and Seducers – Lashed through hell by demons

Mythological characters – Jason (who abandoned Medea)

b) Bolgia Two – Flatterers – Steeped in human excrement

Historical characters – Thais (presumed lover of Alexander the Great, instigator of the burning of the city of Persepolis)

c) Bolgia Three – Simoniacs – Placed head-first in holes in rocks, feet burned with fire

Historical / contemporary characters – Pope Nicholas III (who predicts the arrival of his successors Boniface VIII and Clement V)

d) Bolgia Four – Sorcerors, Astrologers and False Prophets – Forced to walk backwards through hell with their heads twisted, facing the same direction

Historical / contemporary characters – Michel Scot (mathematician and supposed magician), Guido Bonnati (astrologer)

Mythological characters – Tiresias and his daughter Manto (seers)

e) Bolgia Five – Corrupt politicians (Barrators) – Stoked in pools of pitch by demons (‘Malebranche’ – or ‘Evil Claws’)

Contemporary character – ‘Ciampolo’

f) Bolgia Six – Hypocrites – Walk listlessly through hell wearing lead-lined golden robes

Contemporary / historical characters – Two members of the Jovial Friars. Caiphas the High Priest is crucified to the floor while the others walk over him.

g) Bolgia Seven – Thieves – Attacked by serpents and lizards causing  their identities to constantly morph into other grotesque forms

Contemporary character – Vanni Fucci

h) Bolgia Eight – Fraudulent or Evil Counsellors – Concealed within individual flames

Mythological characters – Ulysses and Diomedes (for the Trojan Horse stratagem)

Contemporary character – Guido de Montefeltro (military strategist)

i) Bolgia Nine – Sowers of Dischord – Hacked in two by a huge sword-wielding demon

Historical characters – Muhammed, Ali, Bertran de Bon (who carries his head like a lantern)

j) Bolgia Ten – Falsifiers (Alchemists, Counterfeiters, Perjurers and Imposters) – Stricken with diseases

Mythological characters – Potiphar’s Wife, Sinon (for the Trojan Horse stratagem), Myrrha

Giants – Nimrod, Ephialtes, Typhon, Anteaus etc.

Circle Nine (The Treacherous) – Subdivided into four areas:

a) Towards kindred – ‘Caina’ – buried up to their chins in ice

Mythological characters – Mordred

b) Towards country – ‘Antenora’ – buried up to their chins in ice

Historical characters – Count Ugolino and Archbishop Ruggieri (the former gnaws on the head of the latter)

c) Towards guests – ‘Ptolomeia’ – buried in a supine position in the ice with only their faces uncovered

Historical characters – Fra Alberigo (who had his brother murdered during a banquet)

d) Towards lords – ‘Judecca’ – encased in the ice, bodies contorted into all kinds of positions.

At the centre buried up to the waist is Satan, with three heads, gnawing on the living bodies of Brutus, Cassius and Judas Iscariot.


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