Dante And Homer
Dante makes many references to Homer and the Iliad throughout the Inferno. The
fates of favorite characters are described during the course of Dante’s
travels. Beginning with his vision of Homer in Limbo, continuing through
increasingly gory levels of Hell until Dante reaches the eighth bolgia where he
meets Ulysses who is engulfed in fire. Dante’s infatuation with the Iliad is
clearly illustrated in his Divine Comedy. Dante introduces Homer early in the

Inferno. After the writer passes the gates of Hell and safely crosses the

Acheron he is in the most comfortable section of Hell. Homer, along with other
virtuous pagans(those who were not enlightened by Christ’s appearance on
earth) and unbaptised children are there. Homer is spending eternity with
philosophers, poets, and writers. The first circle has light and a sense of
comfort, two things it doesn’t share with any other level of Hell. The only
torture Homer has to endure is the lack of hope for salvation. Dante’s next
stop (after his confrontation with Minos) is the second circle where the carnal
are relegated. In this circle he meets three main players in Homer’s Iliad,

Paris, Achilles, and Helen. All of the inhabitants of this circle are swept up
like leaves in a storm, denied the light and reason of God they are eternally
dammed to ride the hurricane like winds around the second circle. Much later in
his journey Dante meets the man who conceived the Trojan Horse. Ulysses is in
the eighth bolgia among his fellow evil counselors. He is is entrapped in a
tongue of flame with his partner in crime, Diomede. The flame comes from one
source but is spilt in two, the split symbolizes the falling-out that must come
in a partnership based in evil. Ulysses is placed in this circle for many
reasons. During the Trojan war he gave birth to the deadly idea that the Achains
build infamous Trojan Horse. He also caused the death of Deidamia, Achilles
lover when he talked Achilles into leaving her to go to Troy. A third reason for

Ulysses banishment deep in Hell is his theft of the statue of Pallas from the

Palladium. Dante’s Inferno encompasses a broad range of literary and political
subjects. The references to the Iliad are a small fraction of the composition,
but they give the reader a solid base of well known characters so they can
better understand the how and why behind Dante’s placement of the
personalities in the various levels of Hell.