Inferno Canto 9




Leonard Oakland is a Professor of English at Whitworth University. Dr. Oakland teaches primarily English literature, film studies, and classical epics like Dante’s Commedia.

Questions for Reflection

  • Is Dante’s ranking of the moral seriousness of sins in Hell viable for us today?
  • What distinguishes upper hell from lower hell? Why would Dante depict lower hell (Dis) as a walled city? Does this reveal anything about its spiritual nature?
  • While Dante and Virgil wait for deliverance at the gate under the threat of Medusa’s approach, Virgil covers Dante’s eyes so that he will not be turned to stone when Medusa arrives. The Poet invokes us as readers to see the allegory behind this gesture yet offers us little interpretative help. What do you think is happening here? Is Dante a new Odysseus with the sirens who must be restrained because he cannot control himself? Are there some horrors that will destroy us to see, yet we find that we can’t look away?
  • Who delivers Dante and Virgil from their predicament and what does this show us as readers about the relationship between heaven and hell?


  • Leonard Oakland
  • Whitworth University
  • Run Time 8:39