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Abstract

This paper argues that Dante’s Inferno should not be read exclusively in the Classical humanist tradition by contextualising his work within a long history of apocryphal Christian representations of Hell. Jerome’s Vulgate Bible rendered Hell as an abstract site for the realisation of theological principles, rather than a physical place readily comprehensible in human terms. In failing to describe Hell in literal terms, the Vulgate invited curiosity, and apocryphal visions of Hell proliferated to fill this gap. Dante’s Inferno, then, should be read as the culmination of a long history of attempts to reconcile the principle of divine justice with eternal damnation and to reveal theological principle in its literal form.


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