Thursday, October 20, 2016
#136: The Devil
According to Catholicism, not only is suicide considered to be a sin, but a sin worse than murder itself. The reason being was that suicide was considered to be an open rejection of God’s gift of life. To give up your life was to spit in the face of the God who gave you that life, and thus was considered to be a form of blasphemy.
In Dante’s Inferno, Hell is structured in such a way that every sinner receives a punishment that fits their sin. Those who committed suicide are damned to the Seventh Circle of Hell, where they are punished by being forced to have their souls entombed into trees, whose branches and leaves are regularly and painfully torn away by harpies.
Even worse, upon the Last Judgment, when every soul in Heaven and Hell receive their new physical bodies, their bodies will be left to hang from their tree as a reminder of what they had given up in life.
Of course, that punishment was only reserved for those who had committed suicide in vain. Those who had committed suicide for a noble cause, as in the case of Socrates, were spared that punishment and simply sent to the shores of Limbo to linger for all eternity with the “virtuous sinners.”
I know that’s a lot of exposition to explain one joke—but hey, I’m an English major who read Dante’s Inferno in college. I love finding an excuse to flaunt my otherwise useless trivia.