Since we seem to be discussing the subject of the sodomites in the 7th circle of Hell, I thought I might as well throw in my own opinion. I agree that homosexuality is different than sodomy. To me, sodomy isn’t just the physical act, but the promiscuity as well. With this in mind, seducers and adulterers should also be running with these sodomites instead of the next level down into the 8th circle with the fraudulent, malicious, and flatterers. Homosexuality in itself can be a choice or a genetic disorder. Perhaps sodomites are those who choose to be that way, contending with nature, instead of those who try to follow the natural course but are genetically incapable. For those with genetic anomalies who have no choice, making them suffer in Hell would be equal to that as someone with Down’s syndrome. Most people with Down’s never pass through puberty. Though they may have sexual relations, the ability to process a child is next to impossible. Wouldn’t this be a crime against nature as well? What about women who are barren, or men with low sperm counts? They can’t produce offspring, either. Of course, this is not their choice. So, in my opinion, the sodomites in this circle choose to do what they do in the name of promiscuous fun without regard to others, therefore those particular beings deserve their contrapasso.
Something else that caught my attention occurred in the same circle. On page 120, the last stanza reads: “I do not dare descend to his own level…” In the drawing, Dante and Virgil appear to be on a rocky ledge above the scorching sand. Dante, still living, cannot descend to the same level as his friend because he will suffer the pain of the sand. Though the evil of Hell can’t harm him, the physical place can. Allegorically, even on Dante’s guided tour, he must remember to follow the “right” path to avoid the torture of Hell, just as in his life. This also tells the reader that regardless of the sins of your peers and esteemed friends, you must remain on the “right” path to avoid the eternal torture of Hell. Could this simple phrase explain the danger of peer pressure?
Another thought that comes to my mind regards Minos. Minos is the beast that listens to each soul’s confession, and then delivers the verdict of their eternal (non) resting place. Did Dante take into consideration what would happen in the event of multiple sins? If a man is an adulterer, couldn’t he also be a seducer? What happens in the event of a woman who is a fortuneteller and a hoarder? Or a man who is a wrathful heretic? When multiple sins come into play, it would seem simpler to believe that all sins are equal and all souls go to the same level of Hell. Or, the more sins that are committed, the deeper the level of Hell. This way the worst of the worst get the highest punishment possible. I personally don’t believe that all sins are equal, but I do believe in varying levels of each sin (the difference between a one-time thief of desperation vs. the kleptomaniac). If Dante’s version of Hell were the real thing, I would think that in the case of multiple sins, that person would go to the level of the worst of his sins.