Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/512

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upon the miry earth (vi, 10-12)—a truly dismal abode. Further on a group of the damned are confined in tombs made as hot by flames as iron need be for any art. Whenever a soul is cast into another circle it sprouts like a seed, and grows into a tree. The Harpies then cause it pain by feeding upon its leaves (xiii, 99-102). Soon a drove of sinners was met, followed by "horned demons, with great scourges, who cruelly were beating them behind" (xviii, 35, 36). In one place were a lot of holes in the rocky floor, in each of which a transgressor was stuck head downward, and as far as the calf, while the soles of his feet were frying with a greasy flame (xix, 13-30). In another place was a lake of boiling pitch in which souls were immersed, while demons stood round and kept them under the surface with gaffs (xxi, 16-57). Another group of lost ones had their hands bound with serpents, which were also biting and stinging their bodies (xxiv, 94-96). Others were driven round a ring, where each time they passed a devil would cut them open so that their bowels hung out, and the wound would close again while they were making the next circuit (xxviii, 22-42). In one of the inner circles, if from the hospitals, "all the diseases in one moat were gathered, such was it here, and such a stench came from it, as from putrescent limbs is wont to issue" (xxix, 49-51). Its denizens were scratching scabs from their sores as a knife takes the scales off a fish.

The punishments increase in severity with the descent to the inner and smaller circles of the vast amphitheatre. In the ninth and last circle, where traitors are punished, there is an ice-bound lake, into which the perfidious ones are frozen. "The emperor of the kingdom dolorous from his mid-breast forth issued from the ice." He is supergigantic in size, and has three faces on his head. In each mouth he crunches a sinner, but "To him in front the biting was as naught unto the clawing, for sometimes the spine utterly stripped of all the skin remained" (xxxiv, 55-60). The three arch-traitors distinguished by these supreme torments were Brutus, Cassius, and, the one in front, Judas.

The reformers made little change in the mediæval conception of hell. Calvin Writes: "Forever harassed by a dreadful tempest, they shall feel themselves torn asunder by an angry God and transfixed and penetrated by mortal stings, terrified by the thunderbolts of God, and broken by the weight of his hand, so that to sink into any gulfs would be more tolerable than to stand for a moment in these terrors."

The characteristic austerity of the Puritans finds free scope in the depiction of hell's torments. Their great poet Milton describes the place in the first and second books of Paradise Lost. Satan and his host are cast into it "there to dwell in adamantine chains and penal fire."