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A Cake of Dante’s Inferno!

By William D’Angelo and Erica Christensen, VI Form

A Cake of Dante’s Inferno!

IMG_8399As the final project for our Independent Study reading and discussing Dante’s Divine Comedy, we baked and constructed a cake that featured the Circles of Dante’s “Inferno.” On the Saturday prior to Prize Day, during the Academic Showcase, we presented the cake.  If students or faculty wanted a piece of cake, they needed to read all nine of our descriptions for each specific Circle and write down what Circle they would be in according to Dante. (The cake is designed upside down strictly for balancing purposes!)

The Yellow section (First through Fourth Circles): Limbo, Lust, Gluttony, Greed

The Pink section (Fifth through Seventh Circles): Wrath, Heresy, Violence

The Red section (Eighth and Ninth Circles): Fraud, Treachery

Below are our explanations for each Circle:

Limbo – Limbo is the ante-Hell. Those who have not committed sin, yet did not do good in the world reside here. Here is also where those who were good before the coming of Christ are placed. They stay in a grand palace that shines with the power of Human Reason. Though it is marvelous, the power of God shines even brighter.

Lust – Those who succumb to the pleasures of the physical body are doomed to the circle of Lust. In life they were fickle with their feelings, so in Hell they are tossed about by a raging, tumultuous gale that throws their bodies every way one can imagine. The unending wind tosses the souls of Lust in a writhing orgy of despair and torment.

Gluttony – The second of the self-indulgent sins, Gluttony is reserved for those whose appetite ran amok. Those who suffer any addiction, be it food, drugs, or even lack of caring for one’s own body are subject to sit in a cold rain of excrement and filth. The monster Cerberus watches over the garbage heap of souls and devours those who try to raise themselves from the muck.

Greed – The most destructive of the indulgent sins, Greed wears down the souls of the hoarders and wasters so thoroughly that they lose their identity in Hell. Just as the hoarders would keep wealth, the wasters would over spend it, and thus they are cursed to crash boulders against each other for eternity. Those who place the physical pleasures over God or even themselves have squandered the gifts they were given.

Wrath – In the River Styx, the wrathful battle each other in a vicious duel, while the sullen sing a mournful tune whilst drowning beneath the water. Those who were too pessimistic or too angry to enjoy the life they were given are cursed to the turgid waters under the watch of the Fallen Angels.

Heresy – In the first fiery circle of the city Dis, the Heretics burn in iron tombs. Heretics are not those who believed in a different god, but those who attacked other beliefs and degraded the human soul with their misguided views. This is the second of the violent sins, the sins that are due to the uncontrollable tendencies of Man.

Violence – Violence is split into four sections: the boiling river of blood, Phlegethon, the Wood of Suicide, and the Burning Planes, each of those who were violent towards others, towards themselves, or towards Nature and God suffer in the circle of Violence. Those who shed the blood of others sit in the boiling blood at increasing depths according to their level of sin. The centaurs guard with arrows to find those above the blood. In the Wood, suicidal souls have been contorted into macabre trees that bleed when the harpies tear them with their claws. The blasphemous souls of the Plains lie supine on burning sand while fire rains from the sky. The sodomites roam in groups, while the usurers sit weighed down by heavy purses.

Fraud – Now we arrive at the malicious sins: those who warped God’s gifts to suit their own, premeditated actions. In Fraud lies the Malebolge, a den of 10 valleys where the various crimes of the Fraudulent reside. First, the Panderers and Seducers are whipped by demons to symbolize how they drove others for their own needs. Next, the Flatterers are steeped in excrement, symbolic of the filth they produced with their words. The Simoniacs (the sellers of church offices) are stuck head first in crevices while fire burn their feet. Afterwards, the Sorcerers and False Prophets walk with their heads twisted around. The Corrupt Politicians are immersed in a boiling pitch that clings to them, just as their lives were filled of “the dark secrets” of their corrupt deals. In the sixth Bolgia, the Hypocrites are forced to wear gilded lead cloaks which look good on the outside, but rub their skin off on the inside. The Thieves share the next pit with serpents and lizards that bite and chase them. When bitten, they are turned into a reptile as well, and must bite someone else to regain their bodies. In Bolgia 8, the Advisers and Evil Counsellors burn in pyres of flame, as their own tongues led to the burning of others. Next, the Sowers of Discord are constantly hacked by a demon who splits their bodies as the souls divided those in life. Finally, the Falsifiers lie affected by every disease known to mankind. These alchemists, counterfeiters, perjurers, and imposters suffer like the disease they were on society.

Treachery – The circle of Compounded Fraud, Treachery, is a blizzard of ice and wind. Those who betrayed special relationships are frozen in the ice of Lake Cocytus. The first round is Caina, and here are those who betrayed their kin frozen to the neck, just Cain killed his brother Abel. In round two, Antenora, those who betrayed their nation are frozen up to the chin. In the third round Ptolemy, betrayers of guests are given a most gruesome punishment. All but their face is frozen in the ice, but that is not the worst part. As soon as someone commits this crime, their soul goes straight to the ice, and their body in life is possessed by a demon. Finally, the last round is Judecca. Betrayers of masters, lords, and benefactors are completely submerged in the ice and contorted in every possible horrible position. It is here where Satan lies with his three faces. His massive wings create the gale which keeps the ice frozen and in his two side mouths he tears and gnaws at Brutus and Cassius, the ultimate secular traitors of Julius Caesar. And in his front mouth, he gnashes the ultimate traitor towards God, Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus Christ.

William D’Angelo is a VI Form day student from Medfield, MA. He plays football, wrestles, and is an avid reader of cracked.com.

Erica Christensen is a VI Form day student from Westborough, MA.  She loves reading and participating in cross-fit.

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