When looking at Dante’s Inferno, it can be seen that specific justice and balance are at the heart of these sanctions. The poem moves from minor to major offenses as Dante and Virgil progress deeper into Hell and closer to Lucifer himself. The severity of sins grows as Dante and Virgil journey further into Hell and into the center of the city. Dante comes into souls that have been cruel to both others and themselves. The first group will be required to stand in a pool of boiling blood. Each of these souls is tortured to a distinct amount of torment, in keeping with the notion of fitting retribution as part of God’s justice. Merely the feet of souls who have been slain, only one person stands in hot blood. The spirits of dictators like Alexander or Florence leaders, on the other hand, are covered with blood almost fully, sometimes even their head is in boiling blood: “Then people saw I, who from out the river. Lifted their heads and also all the chest; And many among these I recognized. Thus, ever more and more grew shallower That blood, so that the feet alone it covered…” (Alighieri, Dante, 2008, p. 82). This is because it was the blood they craved in life that drove them to be cruel.
Some forms of punishment, particularly in the modern world, are detrimental, yet some examples of justice a neither archaic nor contemporary but rather everlasting. Tyrants and various forms of blood-shedders thus are only one example: “The tears which with the boiling it unseals… Who made upon the highways so much war. Then back he turned, and passed the ford” (Alighieri, Dante, 2008, p. 83) again. Within these lines, Dante also accepts that these souls’ punishment in Hell is due to their avarice, bloodlust, and fury when they are alive. The punishment, in this case, does not differ from the crime itself. Thus, it follows the pattern of the contrapasso, putting the perpetrators in the boiling blood that they have spilled during their lifetime.
Alighieri, Dante. (2008). Divine Comedy – Inferno (H.W. Longfellow, Trans.), Paskvil.