2008-07-15

Dante's Inferno

This evening I sat down to sup on gourmet leftovers from a dinner party on Saturday. I had a lovely salami, Tuscan bread, bruschetta topping, Tuscan tapenade, and a salad of baby arugula and Romaine lettuce. As I ate, I read The Inferno by Dante Alighieri, that most famous of Tuscans.

Four and a half years ago, I named my son Dante. I didn't intend to name him particularly after the Florentine, but I must admit that Alighieri was the only Dante I had ever heard of. I always knew that meant I would have to read the Divine Comedy sooner or later, and this seemed like a good time. With my wife and son in Spain without me, I have time on my hands.

As I devoured my Epicurean feast, I followed Dante's sojourn in Hell until he reached the city of Dis and the heretics there entombed. There he speaks with souls condemned to Hell for the sin of Epicureanism. This he takes to mean not just the living of life for the pleasures of the here and now, but also the denial of the afterlife. Both of these apply to me.

I accompanied my repast with a wine called Les Heretiques (Vin de Pays d'Oc), which happened to be on sale at my local wine store. I liked the star chart on the label.

As I continued the read, Dante reached the next circle of Hell, where he encountered those poor souls tormented by a rain of fire for the sin of sodomy. At this point, my phone rang, and the caller ID said, "HRC." I knew this to be the Human Rights Campaign, the country's largest gay rights lobbying organization. They asked me to renew my membership, and I agreed, though I talked them down from $100 to $50.

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