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Lucifer Character Analysis

Also called Satan, Beelzebub, and occasionally even Dis, Lucifer was an angel who led a rebellion against God. God then created hell to imprison Lucifer and his fallen angels. Lucifer is even larger than the giants Dante sees in the eighth circle of hell, and is found in the ninth circle, where his three mouths devour Judas, Brutus, and Cassius. Dante and Virgil climb up Lucifer's gargantuan body to exit hell.

Lucifer Quotes in Inferno

The Inferno quotes below are all either spoken by Lucifer or refer to Lucifer. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Sin, Justice, Pity and Piety Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Inferno published in 1950.
Canto 34 Quotes

Each mouth devoured a sinner clenched within,
Frayed by the fangs like flax beneath a brake;
Three at a time he tortured them for sin.

Related Characters: Dante (speaker), Judas, Lucifer, Brutus and Cassius
Page Number: 34.55-57
Explanation and Analysis:

Dante here describes the horrifying body of Lucifer himself, as he holds and punishes Judas, Brutus, and Cassius for the worst sin of all: betrayal of one's master.

This final image confirms and centers the moral system that Dante has been recounting thus far, in which traitors are considered to be the most appalling of criminals. Notably, he includes both religious and classical figures: though Judus may suffer the worst fate for having betrayed Jesus, Brutus and Cassius both make an appearance for betraying the secular figure of Julius Caesar. By placing these three characters at the bottom rank of hell, Dante sets the stakes of the most despicable action—from which one can recover the full hierarchy of lesser sins up to Limbo.

That Dante has chosen there to be “three” sinners punished by Lucifer is no coincidence. Recall that the Divine Comedy is structured in three sections and composed of triplet verses—all of which serves to reiterate the importance of the Holy Trinity to his world system. Here, we see a corrupted version, in which the three greatest sinners have been unified into a single body through being consumed by Lucifer. (Just as the Holy Trinity combines three disparate beings into a single identity.) This symbolic association shows how the logic of God pervades every single component of Dante’s world, and how Hell and evil is essentially not its own entity, but only a perversion of what God has made. Even at the furthest depths of Hell, the structure is analogous to that of the height of Heaven.


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Lucifer Character Timeline in Inferno

The timeline below shows where the character Lucifer appears in Inferno. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Canto 31
Language Theme Icon
...and safely deposits the two poets in the ninth circle of hell, where Judas and Lucifer are held. (full context)
Canto 34
Sin, Justice, Pity and Piety Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Virgil informs Dante that they are now approaching Lucifer, once the fairest of angels before he rebelled against God. As they walk along, Dante... (full context)
Sin, Justice, Pity and Piety Theme Icon
Lucifer's upper body sticks out of the ice and Dante says that Lucifer is even larger... (full context)
Sin, Justice, Pity and Piety Theme Icon
Paganism vs. Christianity Theme Icon
Lucifer has wings larger than any ship's sails that Dante has ever seen. The flapping of... (full context)
This World vs. the Afterlife Theme Icon
...seen all of hell. They wait until an opportune time and then climb up onto Lucifer's monstrous body. Dante holds tight to Virgil as they make the perilous climb up Satan's... (full context)
This World vs. the Afterlife Theme Icon
...passed beyond the center of the earth to the southern hemisphere. After climbing up to Lucifer's head, Virgil had to climb back down the other side of him to go back... (full context)
Paganism vs. Christianity Theme Icon
This World vs. the Afterlife Theme Icon
Dante describes a cavern as far from Lucifer through the earth as Lucifer is from the earth's surface where Dante started (in other... (full context)