19th century French illustration of Dante and Vergil in Hell.

Inferno is the first cantica of Florentine author Dante Alighieri's epic poem, The Divine Comedy, written in Italian. It is also arguably the best known section of the poem. It depicts the living Dante's tour through the eight circles of Hell as he seeks to correct the course of his life. The Roman historical figure Publius Virgil is Dante's guide in the story.

Literary comment[]

In Canto III of Inferno, Dante and Virgil pass through the gate of Hell, which bears an inscription ending with the famous phrase "Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate", most frequently rendered in English as "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here." Versions of this phrase often find their way into the thoughts of Harry Turtledove characters.[1]

Inferno in "Clash of Arms"[]

Literary comment[]

The final scene in the story takes place in a version of Hell inspired by Canto III of the Inferno. However, Dante and his poem are not acknowledged in-universe.

Inferno in The Gladiator[]

Despite its religious overtones, Inferno was still a critical literary work in the Italian People's Republic. Naturally, it was used to further the communist agenda. Gianfranco Mazzilli was given a homework assignment in which he was to write a canto in Dante's style depicting a feudal lord, a capitalist and a fascist in the "appropriate" circle of Hell.

Gianfranco chose Francesco I Sforza, Henry Ford, and Adolf Hitler. He was somewhat disturbed that his father made the exact same choices when he did the same assignment in school.[2]

Inferno in Supervolcano[]

Satan frozen in the center of hell.

After the Yellowstone Supervolcano had erupted, Squirt Frog and the Evolving Tadpoles became marooned in Guilford, Maine for the winter. When Justin Nachman asked the proprietor of Trebor Mansion Inn, Dick Barber, what would happen if there were five or six years without a summer, Barber replied it would be Hell and then clarified he meant Dante Alighieri's hell from Inferno where Satan is buried in ice at the center.[3]

When the U.S. Geological Survey expedition that Kelly Birnbaum was a member approached the Yellowstone Supervolcano, they came to a I-90 road sign that stated "Road past this point not plowed, proceed at your own risk". While the sign was referring to snowplowing, Kelly Ferguson was reminded of "All hope abandon, ye who enter here" from Dante's Inferno.[4]

For several years after the eruption, the weather in the U.S. was unusually cold. One winter in Wayne, Nebraska, Bryce Miller was watching the Weather Channel when it warned of a Siberian Express approaching. It showed images from Edmonton which made Miller think of Dante's innermost circle of Hell from the Inferno which was frozen over trapping Satan.[5]


  1. E.g., End of the Beginning, pg. 175; Atlantis and Other Places, pg. 383 ("The Scarlet Band"); And the Last Trump Shall Sound, pg. 37.
  2. The Gladiator, pgs. 138-142, HC.
  3. Eruption, pg. 375, HC.
  4. All Fall Down, pg. 175, HC.
  5. Things Fall Apart, pg. 199, HC.