What was your reading experience like? Did you enjoy it, or suffer through it? To whom could you recommend this book?
What factors might result in this text being difficult for some people to comprehend or enjoy?
Through where is Dante traveling? Does he ever explain why he is there?
Dante’s circles of hell seem to represent degrees of punishment for sin? What does the Bible say about degrees of eternal reward and punishment?
Is it spiritually beneficial to think of what Hell might be like?
The three beasts in Canto I have been traditionally interpreted as fraud, pride, and greed. How might Jeremiah 5:6 provide insight on the matter? (1.31-51)
Who is his guide? Why this person? (1.73-75)
How are Virgil and Beatrice related to Dante? Why do they appear in this work?
How might this work be considered as a “love story”?
Do you think this work might be considered as both literal (heaven and hell) and as an allegorical reflection of the world in which Dante lives – as a commentary on is own culture and times?
Do you think that it is common for people to systematically evaluate their own life and values when they have lost loved ones?
Why do you think Dante mixes so much classic mythology with Roman Catholic theology in this text?
Were there places in the text that you thought were inconsistent with what the Bible teaches?
How well do you think the average Christian understands the doctrines of sin, salvation, and hell?
One of the most famous lines in all of the western canon is found in Canto 3.9, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.” Why do you think that quote has had such lasting influence?
In Canto III it talks about those who commit to neither God nor Satan. Is this possible?
In the first circle of hell (Canto IV) Dante gets invited into a group of poets of immense stature to engage in conversation. This is similar to the modern question, “Who from history would you invite to a dinner party?” So, who would you?
Dante places Aristotle, Socrates and Plato and other admirable people in the first level of hell because they were not baptized. What kind of theology lays behind this?
Who is in Dante’s 2nd circle (Canto V)? It might be said of many from this section that they were “led astray by love.” Do you think this a problem for very many people?
Dante writes “There is no greater sorrow, than to think backwards to a happy time.” (Canto V) Do you think this is true?
Dante’s 3rd circle (Canto VI) includes those who were gluttonous. Is gluttony really that bad? Do we really understand what is entailed by gluttony, or have we turned it into nothing more than “overeating”?
Clergymen are prominent among the greedy (avarice) in Dante’s 4th circle (Canto VII)? What historical reality might have led Dante to put them here?
Can Canto 7.64-66 be seen as commentary the level of satisfaction that the greedy achieve in this world as well as a picture of their eternal condition?
What do the angry in the fourth circle have in common with the greedy? Do you agree with this portrayal? (7.28-30, 112-115)
Dante gets a little payback on Filippo Argenti (Canto VIII). Many other authors have done the same. Do you have someone that you would want to put into a work like this? What might be a better way of dealing with your feelings?
In Canto VIII we see a connection between arrogance and wrath. Do you think this to accurately reflect human proclivities?
Many of you mentioned “fear” in the text as something worth consideration. What was it about “fear” that caught your attention/imagination?