Circle 1: Limbo

Guy P. Raffa

in Danteworlds

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226702674
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226702780 | DOI:
Circle 1: Limbo

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This chapter presents a brief plot summary for the first circle of Hell, followed by explanations of “encounters” and “allusions”, significant verses (in Italian and English), and study questions to aid in comprehension and facilitate discussion of the poem. Awaking on the other shore of Acheron, Dante follows Virgil into Limbo, the first circle of Hell. Limbo is set apart from the rest of Hell by its tranquil, pleasant atmosphere. It is the eternal abode of spirits from the pre-Christian world who led honorable lives, as well as of souls of unbaptized children and worthy non-Christian adults. Virgil is welcomed back to his home in a “noble castle” by a select group of classical poets, headed by Homer. After Dante himself joins this prestigious company, he views other famous figures from the ancient world (both historical and literary)—among them Plato, Aristotle, Pythagoras, Aeneas, Cicero, and Julius Caesar—and prominent medieval non-Christians, including a sultan of Egypt (Saladin).

Keywords: Dante Alighieri; Virgil; Limbo; Homer; Plato; Aristotle; Pythagoras; Aeneas; Cicero; Julius Caesar

Chapter.  2849 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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