Islam and the architecture of Hell

In Canto VIII of The Inferno, Virgil and Dante approach the city of Dis, Satan’s capital, within the walls of which lie all the lower circles of Hell.

Virgil speaks:

“My son,” the Master said, “the City called Dis
lies just ahead, the heavy citizens,
the swarming crowds of Hell’s Metropolis.”

And I then: “Master, I already see
the glow of its red mosques, as if they came
hot from the forge to smoulder in this valley.”

And my all-knowing Guide: “They are eternal
flues to eternal fire that rages in them
and makes them glow across this lower Hell.”

In his notes on the Canto, John Ciardi explains the reference to mosques:

To a European of Dante’s time a mosque would seem the perversion of a church, the impious counterpart of the House of God, just as Satan is God’s impious counterpart. His city is therefore architectually appropriate, a symbolism that becomes all the more terrible when the mosques are made of red-hot iron.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at December 27, 2010 04:13 PM | Send

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