Dante Alighieri

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Inferno makes teaching easy.


Dante is the protagonist and narrator of The Inferno. He presents the poem as a true, autobiographical recollection of his miraculous journey. He is a good man who strays from the path of virtue… read analysis of Dante


Virgil was the greatest and most famous poet of ancient Rome, revered by Dante and other medieval readers. In Dante's poem, he is a noble, virtuous pagan who guides Dante through hell, often identifying famous… read analysis of Virgil


A figure taken from Greek mythology, Charon is the ferryman who transports dead souls across the river Acheron and into hell. At first, he refuses to ferry Dante across Acheron, because Dante is a living… read analysis of Charon


Minos was a judge in the underworld in Greek mythology and has a similar role in Dante's poem. Upon entering hell, souls go to see Minos in the second circle of hell and confess their… read analysis of Minos

Francesca da Rimini

Dante encounters Francesca in the second circle of hell, where the lustful are punished. Francesca had an affair with her husband's brother, Paolo Malatesta. The two of them were innocently reading romantic stories and… read analysis of Francesca da Rimini
Get the entire Inferno LitChart as a printable PDF.
Inferno PDF


In Greek mythology, the minotaur is the monstrous offspring of a human woman (the queen of Crete) and a bull. The minotaur blocks Dante and Virgil's way in the seventh circle of hell, but thrashes… read analysis of Minotaur


More monsters of classical mythology, these foul creature have the bodies of birds (with fearsome talons) but the heads of women. They dwell in the forest of the suicides in the seventh circle of hell… read analysis of Harpies

Pier delle Vigne

While in the forest of the seventh circle of hell, Dante plucks a branch from a tree and is shocked when the tree cries out in pain. The tree is actually Pier delle Vigne, an… read analysis of Pier delle Vigne

Speaking Bush

The bush in which Jacomo hides, which cries out in pain at having its leaves torn off and scattered. The bush tells Dante that it was once a Florentine citizen who hanged himself. Moved by… read analysis of Speaking Bush


Malacoda is the leader of the devils who torture souls in the fifth trench of the eighth circle of hell. His band of devils try to attack Virgil, but he stops them by telling… read analysis of Malacoda

Sinner from Navarre

While the group of devils escorts Dante and Virgil through the fifth trench of the eighth circle of hell, they pull this sinner out of the pool of boiling pitch and torture him. He tells… read analysis of Sinner from Navarre


One of the most important heroes of Greek mythology, Ulysses (or Odysseus) appears in Homer's Iliad and is the protagonist of Homer's Odyssey. During the Trojan War, he helped plan the Trojan horse and… read analysis of Ulysses

Guido da Montefeltro

Dante speaks with Guido in the eighth trench of the eighth circle of hell. Guido gave false advice to the pope. The pope absolved Guido in advance of his sins, but he still ended up… read analysis of Guido da Montefeltro


A giant whom Dante sees in the eighth circle of hell. Nimrod attempted to build the Tower of Babel, which would reach up to heaven. When God destroyed the tower, the one language spoken by… read analysis of Nimrod


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… read analysis of Lucifer
Minor Characters
Beatrice is a woman beloved by Dante. She is deceased and in heaven, and descends into hell to tell Virgil to guide Dante on his journey.
Neutral Souls
Dante sees these souls as he enters hell. They remained neutral in not committing to good or evil and now continually chase after a blank banner.
Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan
These four great poets of ancient Greece and Rome dwell in Limbo, in the first circle of hell, because (like Virgil) they were good pagans. Together with Virgil, they welcome Dante into their group of esteemed poets, inducting him into a lofty literary tradition.
Paolo Malatesta
Paolo is Francesca da Rimini's lover, who is punished along with her in the second circle of hell. Franceca tells their entire story to Dante, and Paolo does not speak a word.
A creature taken from Greek mythology, Cerberus is a terrifying three-headed dog. It mauls souls in the third circle of hell and stands threateningly in Dante's way. Virgil, though, subdues the monster by throwing handfuls of dirt into its mouths.
A Florentine citizen who recognizes Dante in the third circle of hell, where he is punished for gluttony.
Pluto is the Roman god of the underworld, also associated with wealth. Dante finds him at the entrance to the fourth circle of hell (where spendthrifts and hoarders of money are punished). He blocks Dante's path, but Virgil's words cause him to drop to the ground harmlessly.
Phlegyas ferries Dante and Virgil across the river Styx.
Filippo Argenti
A wrathful sinner who accosts Dante while he is crossing the Styx. He latches onto Phlegyas' boat, but Virgil shoves him back into the Styx's waters, where he bites himself and fights with other wrathful souls.
In Greek mythology, the Furies are three monstrous female figures—Allecto, Tisiphone, and Megaera—who punish perpetrators of certain heinous crimes. They come to Dante and Virgil while they are stopped at the gate of Dis and summon Medusa to come turn Dante to stone.
Another character from Greek mythology, Medusa's gaze has the power to turn onlookers to stone. The Furies call for her at the gate of Dis to turn Dante to stone, but an angel arrives before she comes.
When Dante and Virgil are stopped at the gate of Dis, the angel comes to open the gate and stop the Furies and fallen angels from preventing Dante's journey, all by simply touching the gate and speaking.
A citizen of Florence who, as a heretic, is punished in the sixth circle of hell inside a burning tomb. He explains to Dante that souls can foretell the future, but are unable to see the present clearly.
Cavalcante dei Cavalcanti
The father of one of Dante's friends who is in the sixth circle of hell, he asks Dante about his son. From Dante's response, he assumes that his son has died, but as Dante leaves he tells Farinata to tell Cavalcante that his son is still alive.
A centaur (half-horse, half-man) who demands that Dante identify himself and his punishment in hell in the seventh circle of hell. After being spoken to by Virgil, Nessus helps Dante cross the boiling Phlegethon river.
Another centaur (and the tutor of the hero Achilles), whom Dante encounters at the banks of the Phlegethon.
Lano and Jacomo
Two men who run, fleeing from hounds in the forest of suicides. Jacomo jumps into a bush, scattering its leaves all over, in an attempt to hide, but is found and torn apart by the hounds.
Taken from Greek mythology, Capaneus is a giant man who Dante sees lying in the burning desert of the seventh circle of hell. Capaneus scorned God and still tries to defy him in hell.
Brunetto Latini
Dante's former teacher, whom he encounters in the seventh circle of hell among the Sodomites. Latini asks Dante to remember his literary work, the Thesaurus, in the hopes that he can live on through his work.
Guido Guerra, Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, and Jacopo Rusticucci
Three famous Florentine citizens who speak with Dante in the seventh circle of hell. They ask about Florence and Jacopo encourages Dante to seek immortality through fame.
A huge, winged monster, whom Virgil gets to carry Dante and him from the seventh to the eighth circle of hell. In Greek mythology, one of Hercules' twelve labors was to steal Geryon's cattle.
Venedico Caccianemico
A man from Bologna whom Dante recognizes in the first trench of the eighth circle of hell. Venedico is being punished for selling his sister like a prostitute to a nobleman.
A famous hero of Greek mythology, who went on a quest to find the golden fleece. Dante sees him in the first trench of the eighth circle of hell, where he is punished for deceiving women.
Alessio Interminei
An Italian whom Dante sees in the second trench of the eighth circle of hell. He is being punished for being a flatterer.
Virgil points out this courtesan to Dante in the eighth circle's second trench. She is punished alongside other flatterers for comparing sex with her lovers to miracles.
Pope Nicholas III
Dante encounters Pope Nicholas in the third trench of the eighth circle of hell, where he is punished for Simony by having his head stuck in a hole. He says that his successor, Pope Boniface, will soon join him there, and predicts that Boniface's successor will be evil.
Amphiaraus, Tiresias, and Manto
Three famous seers from classical mythology. For attempting to see too far ahead in the future, they are punished (in the fourth trench of hell's eighth circle) by having their heads turned around so they can only see backwards.
Catalano and Loderingo
Two friars punished among the hypocrites in the sixth trench of the eighth circle of hell, where they are weighed down by bright gilded cloaks whose insides are lined with heavy lead.
Caiaphas instigated the crucifixion of Jesus and is punished in the eighth circle's sixth trench by being crucified on the ground, where other souls walk on top of him.
Vanni Fucci
Dante sees Vanni in the seventh trench of the eighth circle of hell. Vanni is struck by a serpent and burns to ashes. His ashes, though, are immediately reconstituted into his body. Dante talks with Vanni, but then Vanni curses God, which disgusts Dante.
A mythological monster who supposedly dwelled on the ancient site of Rome before the city was founded and was killed by Hercules. Dante sees him chasing after a centaur in the seventh trench of the eighth circle of hell.
Cianfa, Agnello, Buoso, and Puccio Sciancato
Dante encounters these four souls in the seventh trench of the eighth circle of hell. Cianfa is in the form of a six-legged worm that latches onto Agnello until they merge into one creature. A lizard stings Buoso and exchanges bodies with him.
A hero of the Trojan War, Diomedes accompanied Ulysses on a night raid into the city of Troy during which they stole a sacred religious object from the city. He is punished for his deception in the eighth circle's eighth trench, where he and Ulysses share a double flame.
Dante includes the prophet of Islam in the eighth circle of hell's ninth trench, as someone who caused discord, insofar as he split Abrahamic religions by introducing Islam.
Pier da Medicina
Dante sees Pier among the sowers of discord in the eighth circle of hell. Pier asks Dante to remember his name on earth.
Pier da Medicina points out Curio to Dante in the ninth trench of the eighth circle of hell. Curio caused civil strife in ancient Rome, instigating the civil war between Caesar and Pompey.
Pier da Medicina also shows Dante Mosca, who spread civil discord throughout Tuscany.
Bertrand de Born
Dante sees Bertrand de Born among the sowers of discord. For convincing a king to kill his father, Bertrand is decapitated and walks around holding his severed head in his hands.
Geri del Bello
Dante looks for his relative, Geri del Bello, in the ninth trench of the eighth circle of hell. Although he doesn't see him, Virgil tells him that Geri saw Dante and looked angry, probably (reasons Dante) because his death has gone unavenged on earth.
Griffolino d'Arezzo
An alchemist from Siena who is punished with a horrible disease in the tenth trench of the eighth circle of hell.
Another alchemist punished in the eighth circle's tenth trench.
Gianni Schicchi
A soul punished in the tenth trench of hell's eighth circle. He runs around, rabid, and Dante sees him bite Griffolino d'Arezzo.
Like Gianni Schicchi, Myrrha runs rabid around the eighth circle's tenth trench. She is a character from a Greek mythology famous for her incestuous desire for her father.
Adam of Brescia
Also in the tenth trench is Adam, a counterfeiter who is punished with a disease that makes his stomach grotesquely bloated. He gets into a dispute with Sinon.
In classical myth, Sinon was a Greek who tricked the Trojans into welcoming the Trojan horse into their city. He is punished in the eighth circle of hell, in the tenth trench, and he gets into a feud with Adam of Brescia.
Wife of Potiphar
In the Bible, this unnamed woman betrays Joseph. Dante sees her in the tenth trench of the eighth circle of hell.
A giant from classical mythology who attempted to overthrow Jupiter. Dante sees him in the eighth circle of hell.
Another giant from classical mythology, whom Hercules defeated in a wrestling match. Virgil persuades him to carry Dante and him safely down from the eighth circle of hell to the ninth.
Judas was one of the twelve apostles but ultimately betrayed Jesus. As one of the worst sinners in hell, he is devoured by one of the mouths of Lucifer at the very core of hell.
Napoleone and Alessandro of Mangona
Two brothers who killed each other and are punished in the ninth circle of hell.
Camicion dei Pazzi
A man who killed a family member and is punished in the ninth circle of hell, where he talks with Dante.
Bocca degli Abati
A traitor of Florence who is in the ninth circle of hell. He refuses to tell Dante his name, but Dante learns it from another soul and angrily tells him that his name will live on in infamy for his sin.
Count Ugolino
An Italian count who was imprisoned along with his children in a tower by Archbishop Ruggieri where they starved to death. In the ninth circle of hell, he is frozen next to Ruggieri, whose head he devours.
Archbishop Ruggieri
Ruggieri imprisoned Count Ugolino and his children, causing them to die of starvation. He is punished in the ninth circle of hell, where Ugolino continually eats away at his head.
Friar Alberigo
After killing his own brother at a banquet, Alberigo is punished in the ninth circle of hell. His tears freeze over his eyes and he asks Dante to remove the ice in return for telling him his name. Dante agrees but then refuses to remove the ice.
Branca d'Oria
A soul punished in the ninth circle of hell even before his death for murdering his father-in-law. His living body is possessed by a demon on earth.
Brutus and Cassius
Brutus and Cassius betrayed Julius Caesar, leading to his assassination. They are devoured by two of Lucifer's mouths at the center of hell.