December 10, 2004
Dr. Jacquie Lynch
Iago and the Inferno
Dante Alighieri has a specific place and punishment for each particular
sinner in the many levels of his Paradiso, Purgatorio, and Inferno. Among
these sinners are many famous people of the ancient world such as: Homer,
Paolo and Francesca, Andrea dei Mozzi, Brutus, as well as many others.
character is separated into levels according to their individual sin, and each
level has a grouped punishment that is suitable for the collaborative sin
However, as distinct as each offender is, they each have an
individual contrapasso – a punishment that fits the crime committed – all to
, Shakespeare wrote of Iago. If not one of the most
sinful characters in Ancient Literature, Iago undoubtedly belongs in Dante’s
He, like all of the others, would be placed in a specific circle, and
would have a explicit punishment that suits him.
Although he is definitely a maker of discord, which would place him
in the eighth circle in level nine, Iago’s more sinful act is that of Treachery. In
Iago’s first soliloquy he plans: “Let me see now, to get his place, and to
plume up my will in double knavery – how, how?” (NWL-C 2934).
Iago is speaking only to the audience, we - as the audience - know that he is
For this act of Treachery that he speaks of, Iago would be
placed in circle nine.
When Iago is speaking to Roderigo, he states, “for even
out of that will I cause these of Cyprus to mutiny” (2941).
Causing a mutiny