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contrapasso definition

Date : 26-02-2023

Contrapasso is a term used in Dante's Divine Comedy to describe the concept of "punishment fitting the crime." It refers to the idea that in the afterlife, sinners are punished in a manner that is appropriate to their sins. This punishment is not imposed by a vengeful God, but rather arises naturally from the sinner's own actions and the consequences that flow from them.

For example, in Dante's Inferno, the second circle of Hell is reserved for those who were guilty of lust in life. Here, the sinners are punished by being buffeted about by violent winds, symbolizing the restless nature of their desires in life. Similarly, in the eighth circle, those who committed fraud are punished by being trapped in a lake of boiling tar, which represents the sticky, deceptive nature of their actions in life.

The concept of contrapasso reflects Dante's belief that God's justice is not arbitrary, but rather is based on a deep understanding of the nature of sin and its consequences. By experiencing the fitting punishment for their actions, sinners are given the opportunity to recognize the error of their ways and to repent.