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The Nine Circles of Hell: Ninth

The acts of treachery dominate the ninth circle of Hell with classical and Biblical heavy hitters associated with this level of condemnation. Pride and other spiritual imperfections are associated with the many acts of treachery committed by those condemned to this circle of Hell. In this article, you will learn of the different levels in the ninth circle.

Ninth Circle (Treachery)

A ledge is found above the ninth circle of Hell, where giants stand above all. They are visible from the waist up. Some of the individuals that Dante and Virgil see include Nimrod  (great grandson of Noah from the ark), Ephialtes (son of Poseidon who attempted to storm Olympus), and his brother Otus. The giant Antaeus (son of Poseidon and Gaia) lowers the poets into the pit that makes up the ninth circle of Hell.

There are a variety of notable figures found in the last level of Hell. Some are traitors who have been false in their actions, while others have broken the bonds of a special relationship. The betrayal comes in many different forms, from breaking family ties to turning their back on community. While many envision Hell as a fiery place of torment, traitors are actually placed in a lake of ice, where they are frozen. The lake is called Cocytus and the depth of their placement is chosen according to their treachery.

Caina is the first level, which was named after Cain (from the Bible), who took the life of his own brother. Those who have committed treachery against their own family are immersed in the ice up to their faces , just enough to allow their shame to show. One traitor found here is Mordred, who attacked King Arthur.

Next, is Antenora , named after Antenor of Troy, whom medieval tales state betrayed his city to the Greeks. Those who have betrayed their city, political party or country are found at this level.
The third level is called Ptolomaea , most likely named after Ptolomy (the son of Abubus), who invited Simon Maccabaeus and his sons to a banquet with the purpose of killing them all. If one was a traitor to their guests, they ended up here. They are made to lie in a covering of ice with their faces shown. Their punishment is considered more intense than the traitors found in the earlier levels.

The fourth level is called Judecca (after Judas Iscariot), who in the Bible is a betrayer of Christ. Those who have been a traitor to their lords and benefactors are sent here. The punishment consists of being entirely enclosed in ice in compromising positions. Dante and Virgil quickly pass through this level and journey onto the center of Hell.

At the center of Hell, those who have committed the “ultimate sin” is personal treachery against God. Satan is condemned to this part. He is described as a large beast with three faces of different colors: black, red, and pale yellow. Satan is waist deep in ice. From all of his six eyes, tears are flowing. Six wings are attached to his body , all of which are beating in an attempt to escape. Full of hate, Satan is also described as being ignorant and helpless.