Tonight was week two of the Tallil Dead Poet's Society and I ran out of the free copies of Inferno (translated by Tony Esolen) and supplied by Nick Jost and by the father of one of the lieutenants in our unit. For this evening's session everyone read the first five cantos. For the most part the dozen people in the room believe in Hell as a literal place, but there were fewer who believed it is like Dante's Hell in the sense of all torment all the time. And no one believed in Limbo--the people who did neither good not evil. We are all too much Americans and have enough of the Protestant thought pattern that no one can conceive of a life apart from good and evil.
Many of the group did not like "Abandon All Hope You Who Enter Here" on the arch of the entrance to Hell. They want an escape route.
Less than half the group have read any of Dante in the past, but I already have four people who expressed a strong wish that Virgil get reprieve. They hope that at some point his good deed as guide will get him a pass out of Hell. Among the group are skeptics, Bible students, a chaplain and some soldiers trying to deal with issues relating to the religion they were brought up with.
One woman asked when I mentioned evil who gets to decide what is evil. I answered "Dante. We are in his universe." This actually lead to a discussion of the poets art and creating universes. This evening was a lot of fun.