The nine circles of hell are the place where sinners go after death, according to Dante Alighieri’s “Inferno” and other works of medieval literature. The first circle is Limbo, where virtuous non-Christians who did not live as Christians or who committed only venial sins are punished. The second circle is Lust, where those guilty of lustful behavior suffer all manner of physical torment.
The third circle is Gluttony, where people are punished for their greedy consumption of food and drink. The fourth circle is Greed, where people who were obsessed with money and material goods are punished in an ever-flowing river of boiling mud. The fifth circle is Anger, where those guilty of anger are tortured for eternity in a fiery storm that rages about them without letup.
The sixth circle is Heresy, where heretics — those who believed that religious doctrine had been corrupted by human beings rather than revealed directly from God — are punished in various ways depending on their specific beliefs. The seventh circle is for those who committed fraud against others. The eighth circle is for those who committed fraud against themselves (i.e., gluttons). And finally, the ninth and final circle is reserved for traitors like Brutus and Cassius, Judas Iscariot, and Benedict Arnold (who are all together).
The circles are arranged around the outer edge of a great funnel or funnel-like structure that narrows at one end to a small opening representing the mouth of Hell. This opening leads out to Purgatory, which stands as another symbol for redemption. It is important to note that Dante’s Hell is not intended as a literal geographic location, but rather as a symbolic representation of sin and its consequences.