Literature & Paintings

Art Meets Literature: The Fifth Circle of Hell (Dante’s Inferno) by Giovanni Stradano

The third circle, illustrated by Stradanus

“Through me you go into a city of weeping; through me you go into eternal pain; through me you go amongst the lost people”

― Dante Alighieri, The Inferno

Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy and portrays nine circles of Hell. The narrator, together with Roman poet Virgil, explores them as the journey contemplates on recognition and rejection of sin.
In the fifth circle, Phlegyas (king of the Lapiths in Greek mythology) ferries Dante and Virgil across the swampy waters of the river Styx. It is where the wrathful and are punished and are condemned to fight each other on the surface of the damned river. Their punishment reflects their sin.

The fifth circle has been brilliantly captured by the Flanders-born mannerist artist Stradanus and it is one of his most well know works. Stradanus’ works include other paintings that were also inspired from Inferno.

Download Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

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4 thoughts on “Art Meets Literature: The Fifth Circle of Hell (Dante’s Inferno) by Giovanni Stradano

    • That’s one of the best things about classics. Lack of copyright would mean editions from multiple publishers and you are awarded with different perspectives as well as several nominees for the best translation.

  1. Inferno was the best of the three parts, I wish I knew enough about Dante’s politics and the general history/politics of Italy when I read it. It’s a wonderfully macabre representation the artist has done.

    • I am yet to read all the three parts. Just finished Inferno. It was great!

      I have seen Gustave Dore’s illustrations for Divine Comedy and they are as good as his works on The Bible. But Stradano’s work is more haunting and “macabre” as you rightly pointed out.

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