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The penalty in the medieval era for heresy was often public humiliation or to burn to death.For Dante, to be a heretic was to follow one’s own opinion and not the beliefs of the Christian Church.
It is possible for some of the creative punishments to inflict both a physical and psychological suffering.
tails Virgil who leads Dante through Hell after being spurred by Beatrice, and ultimately God, to begin a passage to aid Dante in recognizing and repenting for his sins.
The various punishments that Dante envisions the sinners receiving are broken down into two types.
The first type he borrows from various gruesome and cruel forms of torture and the second type, though often less physically agonizing, is Dante’s creative and imaginative punishment for sins.
In Dante’s Inferno, Dante narrates his descent and observation of hell through the various circles and pouches.
One part of this depiction is his descriptions of the various punishments that each of the different sinners has received.Several punishments that Dante envisions for the various sinners are borrowed from forms of torture.The first physical punishment Dante borrows from that is his punishment for the heretics.The borrowed torturous forms of punishments create a physical pain for the shades, whereas the creative punishments are used to inflict a mental and psychological suffering.However, it is possible for the creative punishments to inflict both a mental and physical pain upon the sinner.Dante wakes and finds himself “in a dark wood” (I, 2).He has strayed from the light and cannot return to it until he has suffered for a period of time.Frederick II was well known for his lead capes with which he punished criminals.Dante places all of the hypocrites in “gilded” cloaks that “dazzled; but inside they were all of lead, so heavy that Frederick’s capes were straw compared to them.” Dante uses this analogy to Frederick to demonstrate the extent of cruelty of his cloaks in The Inferno.For Dante, the hypocrites were those who were seemingly virtuous and good, but beneath their facades they were quite sinful.The cloaks are a metaphor for the hypocrites’ characters: dazzling on the surface and cloaked in lead or sin underneath.