42 astonishing Dante’s Inferno illustrations by Gustave Doré

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Gustave Doré (1832-1883) was a French artist, illustrator and sculptor. In Italy, he gained endless fame because of his beautiful illustrations of Dante’s Divina Commedia.

The Divine Comedy is an allegorical vision and an epic poem of the afterlife written between 1308 and 1312. The poem describes Dante’s travel trough Hell, Purgatory and Heaven and it represents the soul’s journey towards God. The Divine Comedy, have been a source of inspiration for many artists for centuries.

Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

And lo! almost where the ascent began,
A panther light and swift exceedingly,
Which with a spotted skin was covered over

Dante meets Roman Poet Virgil

Behold the beast, for which I have turned back;
Do thou protect me from her, famous Sage

Then he moved on,
and I behind him followed.

Day was departing.

Beatrice am I, who do bid thee go

The gate of Hell
Abandon all hope ye who enter here

Charon
And, lo! toward us in a bark,
Comes on an old man, hoary white with eld,
Crying, “Woe to you, wicked spirits!”

Charon herds the sinners onto his boat
Charon the demon, with eyes of glede,
Beckoning to them, collects them all together,
Beats with his oar whoever lags behind.

The Virtuous pagans
Lost are we and only so far punished,
That without hope we live on in desire.

Dante is accepted as an equal by the great Greek and Roman poets
Thus I beheld assemble the fair school
Of that lord of the song pre-eminent,
Who o’er the others like an eagle soars.

Minos judges the sinners.
There standeth Minos horribly, and snarls;
Examins the transgressions at the entrance;
Judges, and sends according to he girds them.
[Each time his tail wraps round the sinner represents one circle further down]

The hurricane of souls
The infernal hurricane that never rests
Hurtles the spirits onwards in its rapine

Canto XV. Dante is interested in why two souls within the hurricane are treated much more gently than all others:
Francesca da Rimini

O Poet, willingly,
Speak would I to those two, who go together,
And seem upon the wind so light.

Francesca da Rimini
Love has conducted us unto one death;

Caina waiteth him who quenched our life

Francesca da Rimini
That day no further we read within
[Francesca di Rimini had an affair with her brother-in-law and both were murdered by her husband.]

 

I swooned away as if I had been dying,
And fell, even as a dead body falls.

Not all the gold that is beneath the moon,
Or even hath been, or there toil-worn souls,
Might purchase rest for one.

The Severed Head of Bertrand de Born speaks

Canto XXXI

Canto XXXI

Titans and other giants are imprisoned in Hell

Canto XXII

Count Ugolino gnawing the Head of Ruggieri.

Canto XXVIII
Virgil shows Dante the Shade of Thaïs

Canto XXXIV – Lucifer, King of Hell

Megaera, Tisipone, and Alecto

The Thieves tortured by Serpents

Ciampolo escaping from the Demon Alichino

The Minotaur on the Shattered Cliff

The Flaming Spirits of the evil Counsellors

Call thou to mind
Piero of Medicina, if again
Returning, thou behold’st the pleasant land
That from Vercelli slopes to Mercabó.

Canto XXIX
Virgil reproves Dante’s Curiosity

The Hypocrites address Dante

Dante addresses Pope Nicholas III

Harpies in the Forest of Suicides

Mutilated Shades of Mahomet

The Descent of the Abyss on Geryon’s Back

Translation by Henry W. Longfellow, , Published by Arcturus Books, 2007.
Images: http://commons.wikimedia.org/