Dante and Virgil in the Ninth Circle of Hell

Gustav Doré, Dante and Virgil in the Ninth Circle of Hell, 1861, oil on canvas, 315 x 450 cm, Musée de Brou, Bourg-en-Bresse.

Dore is known primarily for his dramatic, engraved black and white book illustrations. One of his most famous collections illustrates Dante's Divine Comedy. He painted in color less frequently but when he did they were often quite large; this piece is about 10 feet by 14 feet. Here he concentrates on the ninth circle of Hell, where Dante and his guide Virgil see the frozen lake Cocytus where sinners guilty of betrayal are tormented. This level is for those who betrayed family ties, community ties, guests, or their liege lords. Because they denied all human and divine ties in life, they are denied all warmth and love and are bound by the ice as their punishment.


Characteristic of a deity (a god or goddess).

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