Dante Alighieri

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Themes and Colors
Sin, Justice, Pity and Piety Theme Icon
Paganism vs. Christianity Theme Icon
Individual Fame Theme Icon
This World vs. the Afterlife Theme Icon
Language Theme Icon
Love Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Inferno, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Love Theme Icon

Love may not be quite as powerful as the word in the Inferno, but it is still a strong force in Dante's epic. Dante is allowed to make his amazing journey through hell because of how much Beatrice, Dante's beloved who is now in heaven, loves him. She left heaven because of her love for Dante, to tell Virgil to guide Dante through hell. And as Dante traverses through hell, he is continually motivated to continue his frightening journey by some form of love, whether for Beatrice, Virgil, or God. In addition, the inscription above the entrance to hell specifies that hell was created by God, whom it describes as "the power, and the unsearchably / high wisdom, and the primal love supernal," (3.5-6). God's original love is thus in large part the primal organizing force behind hell and the entire plot of Dante's poem.

While Dante champions these forms of sacred love, his poem also provides examples of various perversions of love. A love of wealth and power, for example, drives many souls to commit terrible sins. The second circle of hell contains those sinners who gave into excessive lust, including the memorable Francesca da Rimini. These sinners follow lust and desire, rather than chaste love like that between Dante and Beatrice. Dante also includes Sodomites in his vision of hell, a category including (but not limited to) those who engage in homosexual acts. Also in Dante's hell is Myrrha, a figure of Greek mythology famous for her incestuous desire for her father. And while Myrrha loved her father excessively and in the wrong way, hell is also filled with those who did not love their own families or nations enough, as the traitors in the ninth circle attest.

Many of the sinners in Dante's hell thus pursued some kind of bad love or desire instead of the one love that, for Dante, matters most: the love of God. By contrast, Dante's love for Beatrice is virtuous, because it leads him closer to God's love, rather than further away from it.

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Love Quotes in Inferno

Below you will find the important quotes in Inferno related to the theme of Love.
Canto 2 Quotes

Beatrice am I, who thy good speed beseech;
Love that first moved me from the blissful place
Whither I'd fain return, now moves my speech.

Related Characters: Beatrice (speaker), Beatrice
Page Number: 2.70-72
Explanation and Analysis:
Canto 3 Quotes

Justice moved my great maker; God eternal
Wrought me: the power, and the unsearchably
High wisdom, and the primal love supernal.

Related Characters: Guido Guerra, Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, and Jacopo Rusticucci (speaker)
Page Number: 4-6
Explanation and Analysis:
Canto 5 Quotes

Love, that so soon takes hold in the gentle breast,
Took this lad with the lovely body they tore
From me; the way of it leaves me still distrest.

Love, that to no loved heart remits love's score,
Took me with such great joy of him, that see!
It holds me yet and never shall leave me more.

Love to a single death brought him and me.

Related Characters: Francesca da Rimini (speaker), Paolo Malatesta
Page Number: 5.100-106
Explanation and Analysis: