Dante's Inferno: A Study on Part I of The Divine Comedy

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Dante's Divine Comedy can rightly be called the greatest poem ever written, praised through the ages by a pantheon of writers and scholars. Romantic poet William Wordsworth (1770-1850) referred to Dante's crowned "visionary brow." Irish novelist James Joyce (1882-1941) said "Dante is my spiritual food!" Pope Benedict XV (1854-1922) called Dante "the most eloquent singer of the Christian idea." Even the 20th century literary critic T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) famously wrote that "Shakespeare and Dante divide the world between them, there is no third."

Yet today this great poem is often dismissed by modern scholars for its unabashed Catholic theology and deep spiritual vision. Shrug off these skeptical scholars disdain and discover for yourself the true grandeur, Christian nature, and sheer artistry of Dante's Divine Comedy.
  1. Cantos 1–3: Where Are You Going, Traveler?
    Dante, bewildered in sin, meets Virgil, sent to him by Beatrice. Together, they enter the terrible gates of Hell.

  2. Cantos 4–8: Loving Good Things in an Evil Way
    Dante and Virgil, after meeting the virtuous pagans in Limbo, the rim of Hell, meet the adulterers, gluttons, avaricious, wrathful, and slothful.

  3. Cantos 9–12: Intellectual Terror
    Virgil and Dante enter the first ring of the City of Dis, which includes the materialist heretics, who reveal to us the terrible constriction of the intellect entailed by sin.

  4. Cantos 13–17: A World of Violence
    Dante and Virgil encounter the violent against self, God, Nature, and human industry. These are not simply murderers -- they are suicides, blasphemers, sodomites, and usurers.

  5. Cantos 18–22: Liars and All Such Filth
    Dante and Virgil travel through the Malebolge, the pouches of evil on the eighth circle of Hell where they meet various practitioners of fraud, including seducers, simonists, and grafters.

  6. Cantos 23–27: The Fire of a Perverted Mind
    As they continue around the Malebolge, Dante and Virgil journey past those who used their intellects to deceive: hypocrites, thieves, and evil counselors.

  7. Cantos 28–31: Destroying the Community of Man
    In the ninth pouch, Virgil and Dante find the schismatics, who are punished by division in their bodies. In the final pouch, they meet the counterfeiters who are punished by disease.

  8. Cantos 32–34: When Hell Freezes Over
    Dante and Virgil come to the very last circle of Hell, and encounter the impotence of evil in the frozen pit where the Father of Lies is trapped in ice.

Just as Dante needed Virgil to lead him through the bowels of Hell, you also need a true and trustworthy guide. Dr. Anthony Esolen serves as your Virgil in this course on the Inferno, the first canticle of the Divine Comedy. An expert who has taught Dante to college students for more than twenty years, Professor Esolen is also the preeminent modern translator of the entire Divine Comedy from the original Italian.

With Professor Esolen you will enter the terrible gates of Hell and progress level by infernal level to its diabolical depths. Professor Esolen places a special emphasis on the drama of the poem, leading you through each canto in succession. Along the way, he will highlight Dante's astonishing human and theological insights and discuss the destiny of man, how to find our way out of the wilderness of sin, the relationship between love and knowledge, and the integral unity between body and soul.

Professor Esolen will more than satisfy your curiosity about Hell and the fate of the damned. He will reveal in all its starkness the horror of sin, and awaken in your heart a longing for divine love.


The Homeschooling Set includes the Streaming Video and Homeschooling Course Guide. Each Course Guide contains everything needed for a student to complete the course, including:

    • Lesson Plan
    • Quizzes
    • Final Essay
    • Lecture Notes
    • Answer Key


Dr. Anthony Esolen is a writer, social commentator, translator of classical poetry, and Writer-in-Residence at Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts. He taught at Furman University and Providence College before transferring to the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in 2017 and Magdalen in 2019.

Dr. Esolen has translated into English Dante’s Divine Comedy, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things, and Torquato Tasso’s Jerusalem Delivered. He is the author of numerous books and articles in such publications as The Modern Age, The Catholic World Report, Chronicles, The Claremont Review of Books, The Public Discourse, First Things, Crisis Magazine, The Catholic Thing, and Touchstone, for which he serves as a senior editor. He is a regular contributor to Magnificat, and has written frequently for a host of other online journals.

Dr. Esolen's web magazine, Word and Song, features fascinating weekly analyses of language, poetry, hymns and film in his signature humorous intellectual style.


Anthony Esolen, PhD
TAN Courses
Publication Date:

5 Reviews

  • 5
    My Trusted Guide for the Divine Comedy!

    Posted by Mary E. on May 24th 2023

    I read The Divine Comedy earlier this year solo. When Tan Books offered The Inferno Video Course wit…

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  • 5

    Posted by Kathleen-Marie T. on Jan 6th 2023


  • 5

    Posted by MICHAEL S. on Dec 28th 2022

    I used this book for my senior Theology class! I found it to be a very helpful resource from how I p…

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  • 5
    Dantes Inferno

    Posted by Joyce G. on Jul 27th 2022

    This is a great companion to focus the study of this mighty work and provides questions for meditati…

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  • 5
    If you have ever wanted

    Posted by Lucy P. on Mar 19th 2022

    If you have ever wanted to read Dante;s Divine Comedy, this is the study for you. Dr. Anthony Esolen…

    Read More