Ice in Dante’s Inferno

4 April 2015
An analysis of the symbolic meaning of ice in the poem.

This paper explores the symbolic meaning of ice and the concepts of Hell and Satan in Dante’s `Inferno`. The qualities of ice are examined against many examples from the text.
`Dante’s Inferno describes an icy hell; the closer the Poets travel towards Satan’s lair, the icier Hell becomes, literally and metaphorically.
Ice forms physically in the absence of the warm comfort of the sun; it is a symbol of winter. When Dante descends with Virgil into the levels of Hell, they travel through Circles that spiral farther and farther from the source of physical and spiritual warmth, the sun. In the Second Circle of Hell, Dante already refers to `the cold season,` (Canto V, 41). Winter sees days short, sunlight scarce and valuable. When nighttime rules, so do cold and ice. Qualities of ice such as coldness, hardness, and discomfort are apparent in the Third Circle: `In the third circle am I of the rain/Eternal, maledict, and cold, and heavy; Its law and quality are never new,` (Canto VI, 7-9)`

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