Canto XIII - The Violent Against Themselves

700 years ago Dante Alighieri published his “Divine Comedy".

  • The Inferno - Journey Through Hell

  • The Purgatorio - Journey Through Purgatory (limbo)

  • The Paradiso - Journey Through Heaven

Dante wrote in Italian, rather than Latin, so his story would be accessible to the “common” readers. In the 1300s in Tuscany, people lived their lives following the guidance of the Church. Heaven and Hell were real places according to scripture, but Dante brought these places to life in memorable detail in a language that the masses could easily understand.

I hope to do the same with this website in regards to Suicide Awareness and Prevention. I write what comes to me in accessible language that, I hope, removes the veneer of silence from mental illness and suicide.

Here is a synopsis of the The 7th Circle/Shelf/Abyss in “The Inferno":

Nessus, [a Centaur], carries the Poets across the river of boiling blood and leaves them in the Second Round of the Seventh Circle, THE WOOD OF THE SUICIDES. Here are punished those who destroyed their own lives and those who destroyed their substance.

The souls of the Suicides are encased in thorny trees whose leaves are eaten by the odious HARPIES [sic], the overseers of the damned. When the Harpies feed upon them, damaging their leaves and limbs, the wound bleeds. Only as long as the blood flows are the souls of the trees able to speak.

Thus, they who destroyed their own bodies are denied a human form; and just as the supreme expression of their lives was self-destruction, so they are permitted to speak only through that which tears and destroys them. Only through their own blood do they find voice. And to add one more dimension to the symbolism, it is the Harpies - defilers of all they touch - who give them their eternally recurring wounds.

John Ciardi, The Inferno