Hell

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” ~Dante Alighieri, Inferno, Canto III. 1-7. (said to be inscribed on the gate of Hell).

If not for the weird looks I’d put this quote above the weight room door, perhaps in its original Italian: “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate.”

Students don’t believe me when I tell them that one small misdeed can, if unattended, lead to larger future misdeeds. I suspect they’re unaware that Dante, in his Divine Comedy–the Commedia being one of the greatest works of literature–described nine circles of Hell, each one deeper and more severe than the last.

Sometimes I’ll say, half-jokingly, that if you’re willing to cheat on a test now it might be a matter of time before you’re willing to cheat on your spouse. Of course I get laughs and eye-rolls, even though surveys show that between 15-25% of marriages report infidelity, accounting for anywhere between 20-40% of divorces. Fifty-year-old alcoholics don’t become that way overnight; it starts in high school.

And “Lust” is only Dante’s second circle of Hell. Way down in the ninth are Hitler and Satan, the “Treacherous”.