The seven deadly sins, also known as the capital vices or cardinal sins, are classifications of objectionable vices that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct Christians how to avoid committing any sins. These sins are actually recognized as wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony. One of the 7 deadly sins that man can commit but should not commit is the lust. Lust comes with the things about human sexuality. It has something to do with being attached sexually with someone whether opposite or same gender.
Lust in layman’s term is the very strong sexual desire or excessive sexual desire for someone. In Dante’s Inferno, all the women that we encountered there seems to be there because of their misconduct connected to sexuality. These people have committed sins that gradually show excessive love and desire for someone else and because of this, they are punished with eternal damnation. Lust is caused by excessive love or desire for someone, but lust and love is a two different thing. Lust is self-gratification without thought or consideration of your partner.
You just use him or her to gratify your urge. And this is obviously wrong on any level because lust is not taking responsibility for your actions, nor in having any forethought as to the consequences. Meanwhile, love is a strong emotion. It is an intense feeling of deep affection for someone or something. In this case, we could say that lust really is a deadly sin because most of the time we say that it’s love that allows us to do that, but the truth is we just often times mistake lust as love. Here in Inferno, people who were overcome by lust were placed in the second circle which is the Carnal.
In this specific circle, Dante has placed all those sinners who committed sins because of lust. Dante condemns these “carnal malefactors” for letting their appetites sway their reason. And as a punishment, these souls are blown back and forth by the terrible winds of a violent storm, without rest. This symbolizes the power of lust to blow one about needlessly and aimlessly. In this circle, Dante has placed several known people who were able to commit sinful crimes because of excess love and desire and most of these known people are women. If you have noticed, most of the women, if not all, are sinners of the second circle.
These women were able to commit adultery and too much sexual passion for their lovers. One good example for this is Francesca. Francesca was able to commit adultery against her husband when she had a relationship with his husband’s brother which is Paolo. Her husband which is Giovanni have caught them while they were in a room and Giovanni have killed them both. As a punishment for committing adultery, their punishment in the second circle was to be whirled and buffeted endlessly through the murky air (symbolizing the beclouding of their reason by passion) by a great gale (symbolizing their lust).
Next in line is Semiramis. Semiramis is a legendary queen of Assyria who assumed full power at the death of her husband, Nimus. Same punishment was applied to her. Another known woman can also be found in the second circle. Dido she is the Queen and founder of Carthage. She had vowed to remain faithful to her husband, Sichaeus, but she fell in love with Aeneas. When Aeneas abandoned her she stabbed herself on a funeral that she had had prepared. Actually, if you will follow Dante’s system of punishment, Dido should be placed in the Seventh circle with the suicides.
But the reason why she was placed in the second circle is because “she killed herself for love” and that makes her sing more acceptable. Next is Cleopatra who committed a very lustful relationship with his lover Antony. Cleopatra was actually known to be the “Queen of the Lust” during her time. Cleopatra took her own life to avoid capture by Octavian (the future emperor Augustus); Octavian had defeated Mark Antony, who was Cleopatra’s lover (she had previously been the lover of Julius Caesar).
Finally, Helen can also be found in the second circle. We all know that Helen committed adultery against her husband and so because of this she was placed in the second circle still considering that she was only able to do such sin because of extreme love for Paris. On the other hand, it’s not only women that are capable of doing such crime but also men. There are several men who were also able to commit sins because they were overcome by lust namely, Paolo, Achilles, Paris and Tristan.
Paolo eventually was the lover of Francesca who committed adultery against his brother Giovanni. Next, Achilles as we all know was a warrior/fighter. He was placed among this company because of his passion for Polyxena, the daughter of Priam. For love of her, he agreed to desert the Greeks and to join the Trojans, but when he went to the temple for the wedding he was killed by Paris. Next to Achilles is Paris who eventually had an affair with Helen who was the wife of Menelaus. They have committed adultery that actually caused the Trojan war.
Lastly, Tristan, nephew of King Mark of Cornwall, and Iseult (Mark’s fiancee) became lovers after they mistakenly drank the magic potion intended for Mark and Iseult. Mark shoots Tristan with a poisoned arrow, according to one version of the story popular in Dante’s day, and the wounded man then clenches his lover so tightly that they die in one another’s arms. Generally, the stories and sins of these souls shares a common ground and that is “everything in the name of love. ” Because of this, people commit sins that they thought are acceptable because there is an intervention of love.
Moreover, I personally believe that sinners like them do not deserve to be in the second circle and receive the lightest punishment. Why so? Simply because no matter what you do, committing adultery and destroying the sacred thing of marriage or union is a sin. It is a sin not only ethically but most importantly it is a sin in the eyes of God. Destroying a sacred union is an awful sin and receiving such light punishment should not be. I feel that these souls should also be given a harder punishment since they have committed a very big sin.
In conclusion to this, the second circle generally is a circle for those who sinned by excess of sexual passion. It is the most natural sin and the sin most nearly associated with love, so its punishment is the lightest of all to be found in hell proper. But I still believe that since man has given the will and choice, each one of us has the power to follow our wills and choose our choices as dictated by ourselves but of course with considering all the possible factors. We always have a choice, so these sinners could have chosen to commit it or not.
Courtney from Study Moose
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