In the last post Danté had reached the shore of Acheron just past Hell's gate and then promptly fell asleep. He wakes up on the other side of the river, refreshed and ready to continue his journey.
On the surface, Limbo is not a bad place. It is made up green meadows and a castle with seven gates representing the seven virtues that these virtuous pagans practiced in their daily lives. What are the seven virtues, you ask? Prudence, justice, temperance, courage, faith, hope and charity.
Virgil meets up with his compatriots Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan, all famous writers of the classic world, and they hold a short conclave and then adopt Danté as one of their own. Wow, pretty gutsy for a guy who hasn't even finished The Divine Comedy yet.
Canto V - Circle two: Lust
Now we enter circle two where we meet Minos who is judging the newcomers. He hears everyone's sins and then wraps his tail around his body as many times as the number of circles the newly arrived are to descend into Hell.
Circle two is the home of Lust and Virgil offers a catalog of the lustful that includes Cleopatra, Dido, Helen, Paris and Tristan.
Down descend Francesca da Remini and Paolo, her lover and the younger brother of her husband. She tells Danté how Paolo and she, virtuous as lambs, were innocently reading Sir Galahad. Okay, stop right there. Sir Galahad is the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, an adulterous romance between the Queen of Camelot and one of her husband's knights.
See yourself yet? Have ever stopped by your best friend's house when she is out of town to watch The Notebook with her boyfriend and things got a little out of hand? If your girlfriend spent the weekend with her parents and you went out partying and found yourself in a compromising position, you have just entered circle Lust.
So Francesca's husband catches the pair in the act and kills them both. A bit extreme, but he gets his final reward a little farther along in Inferno.
Remember these shades are in H-E-L-L. They are not the most forthcoming or honest (really, what do they have to lose?) Francesca is a schemer. She tells Danté how much she appreciates his taking the time to listen to her since God will not. She blames everyone else because she ended up in Hell. Her husband is despicable to the point of killing her and she curses him. She blames Galahad for writing a book that is so romantic it overcomes her ability to resist temptation. She blames amor for attracting her to Paolo. She blames Paolo's physical beauty. But never does she take any responsibility.
What is the punishment for the lustful? They are flying around in the sky like "starlings" in the winter being buffeted by the winds in the same way they were buffeted by lust as it controlled them aimlessly and senselessly during their lives.
Danté, at this point, is so naive and feels so much pity for this pair of murdered lovers that he swoons "as if in death." In other words, he still believes everything every shade tells him. Danté still doesn't quite understand he's not in Kansas anymore.
Canto VI - Circle three: Gluttony
The shade says Florentines are envious and predicts that Danté's white party will be expelled from Florence (which is why Danté is in exile). Remember, Danté set his book in the past where all these predictions have come to fruition. Is he saying Danté should have toned it down a bit when he was in charge? That he was lording his power and position over those who were not in the same political party as he? Maybe.
Envy is also a real time waster. Sheesh, this is America, if you want something that isn't unethical or illegal, just go get it - although I'd avoid those high-interest credit cards.
Punishment for the gluttonous is to be stuck in the the rain and hail, unable to stay clean or dry, sightless and unaware of your neighbors--a physical metaphor for how these shades lived their lives.
Danté still feels pity for the shades in Hell and asks Virgil if they will get some relief come Judgement Day?
No, responds Virgil.
Where do you see lust, envy, gluttony, and over consumption at work in our society today? Do you think it is related to the rise of the "Me" culture? How does that relate to lust, gluttony, or envy?
How does the short film Next Floor (see above) represent envy, self-indulgence, and over consumption more than gluttony as it relates to food?
Do you think the societal norms of medieval times are just too restrictive and don't really apply to our enlightened modern society?