Moral structure

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Citation (Scopus)
22 Downloads (Pure)


Chapter 12 provides a comprehensive overview of the moral structure of each of the three realms of Dante’s afterlife: Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. It examines Dante’s sources, ethical criteria, and topography, as well as his representation of moral structure in the narrative itself, and its political implications. The first section analyses the four principal regions of Hell through Virgil’s rationale: the circles of incontinence, the ‘rings’ of violence, the ‘pouches’ of simple fraud, and the pit of treacherous fraud. It then explores the three groups of souls that Virgil strikingly leaves out: the ‘neutrals’, the virtuous pagans in Limbo, and the heretics. The second section addresses four key differences between Infernal and Purgatorial suffering, explains the moral theories of disordered love and the seven capital sins underpinning the seven terraces of Dante’s Purgatory, and examines the theologically original antechamber of Purgatory, and the Earthly Paradise at the mountain’s summit. The third section highlights Dante’s distinction between what Paradise is and how it is conveyed, and shows how his layered vision of Paradise overlaps the scheme of the four cardinal and three theological virtues with the theory of astral influence on personality.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Dante's Commedia
EditorsZygmunt Barański, Simon Gilson
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781108367769
ISBN (Print)9781108421294
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

Publication series

Name Cambridge Companions to Literature


  • Dante
  • Ethics
  • Morals
  • Theology
  • Politics
  • Rationale
  • Christian
  • Hell
  • Purgatory
  • Paradise


Dive into the research topics of 'Moral structure'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this