..........Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com.........

Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


Someone recently used the term "Ichabod" and I wanted to research it for myself. The word, "Ichabod", is used in 2 places in the Bible: I Samuel 4: 21 and I Samuel 14: 3

To study this, I was first taught to get a definition of the word. "Ichabod" means "Where is the glory?" meaning "where is the glory of God?", "inglorious".

Second I was taught to read the scripture in context so here is the story in which the term is used:

1 Samuel 2:22-25 (Modern King James Version) And Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who gathered at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. (23) And he said to them, Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings by all the people. (24) No, my sons, for it is no good report that I hear. You make Jehovah's people to transgress. (25) If one man sins against another, the judge shall judge him. But if a man sins against Jehovah, who shall plead for him? But they did not listen to the voice of their father, because Jehovah desired to kill them.

1 Samuel 4:10-22 (Modern King James Version) And the Philistines fought, and Israel was beaten, and each one of them fled into his tent. And there was a very great slaughter, for there fell thirty thousand footmen of Israel. (11) And the ark of God was taken. And Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were slain. (12) And a man of Benjamin ran out of the army. And he came to Shiloh the same day with his clothes torn and with earth upon his head. (13) And he came in, and behold, Eli sat on a seat by the wayside watching. For his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out. (14) And when Eli heard the noise of the crying, he said, What is the noise of this tumult? And the man hurried in and told Eli. (15) And Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were set so that he could not see. (16) And the man said to Eli, I am he who came out of the army, and I fled today out of the army. And he said, How did the matter go, my son? (17) And the messenger answered and said, Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people also. And also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God is taken. (18) And it happened when he spoke of the ark of God, he fell backward off the seat, by the side of the gate. And his neck broke, and he died, for he was an old man, and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years. (19) And his daughter-in-law, Phinehas' wife, was with child, ready to be delivered. And when she heard the report that the ark of God was taken, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and travailed, for her pains came upon her. (20) And about the time of her death the women that stood by her said to her, Do not fear, for you have borne a son. But she did not answer, nor set her heart. (21) And she named the child Ichabod, saying, The glory has departed from Israel, because the ark of God had been taken, and because of her father-in-law and her husband. (22) And she said, The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God is taken.

Now let's look at the history of this story. Elkanah was married to 2 women: Hannah and Peninnah. While Peninnah had children, Hannah was unable to conceive and she was very depressed about it. Elkanah tried to reassure her that he loved her anyway but she was miserable. Elkanah and his family would go up once a year to Shiloh to worship God and it was on one of these trips to Shiloh that Hannah was praying and weeping before the Lord at the House of God. She promised God to dedicate her first child to His service if He would open her womb. As she was quietly praying and weeping, the High Priest came upon her. It was the High Priest Eli.

1 Samuel 1:12-13 (Modern King James Version) And it happened as she continued praying before Jehovah, Eli noticed her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart, only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. And Eli thought she had become drunk.

He thinks she's drunk. Instead of trying to find out what's really going on, maybe offering some counsel, he reprimands her. But she tells him she's not drunk but praying. Eli then blesses her. Sure enough, she conceives and has a son named Samuel. After he is weaned she fulfills her promise to God and gives him to the High Priest Eli to serve in the Tabernacle of God in Shiloh. What a sacrifice! But God blesses her with 3 more sons and 2 daughters and I'm sure she kept a loving relationship with Samuel even though it was from a distance. She would have visited him yearly on their trip to worship God in the Tabernacle.

Now, in the 2nd chapter we find that the High Priest Eli had some family troubles of his own. His two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are serving in the Temple but they are behaving outrageously and taking advantage of their position. These spiritual leaders were seducing women who came to the Temple. Eli, their father, and High Priest of the Temple, only bemoaned their sins but did nothing to stop them. This sin was practiced by the very spiritual leaders that were suppose to be leading the people TO God. God calls to the boy, Samuel, in the middle of the night. At first Samuel is awakened and thinks it's old Eli calling him. But Eli says, "Go back to bed." It happens a second time. Finally, the third time:

1 Samuel 3:8-21 (Modern King James Version) And Jehovah called Samuel again, the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, Here am I, for you called me. And Eli saw that Jehovah had called the child. (9) And Eli said to Samuel, Go, lie down; and it shall be, if One calls you, you shall say, Speak, Jehovah, for Your servant hears. And Samuel went to lie down in his place. (10) ;And Jehovah came and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel! Then Samuel answered, Speak, for Your servant hears. (11) And Jehovah said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel at which both the ears of everyone who hears it shall tingle. (12) In that day I will confirm to Eli all that which I have spoken as to his house, beginning and making an end. (13) For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile and he did not restrain them. (14) And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever. (15) And Samuel lay until morning, and opened the doors of the house of Jehovah. And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision. (16) And Eli called Samuel and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. (17) And he said, What is the word which He has said to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide a thing from me of all the words that He said to you. (18) And Samuel told him all the words, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is Jehovah; let Him do what seems good to Him. (19) And Samuel grew, and Jehovah was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. (20) And all Israel, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of Jehovah. (21) And Jehovah appeared again in Shiloh. For Jehovah revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the Word of Jehovah.

I guess they didn't take their father's warnings seriously. Obviously they didn't take Samuel's words seriously. They probably thought God wouldn't speak through a youth like Samuel, a mere servant. I guess they didn't believe the old stories of God's power on behalf of Israel in the past. Or maybe they thought because they worked for God they were covered. Judgement of their behavior had been mercifully withheld for a time but they took advantage of the mercy of God and thought they were getting away with it. When it became apparent that they were NOT going to change their ways on their own initiative, judgement fell on them.

The Philistines, old enemies of Israel, came back to do battle with the Israelites. Israel lost the battle and lost 4,000 men that day.

1 Samuel 4:3 (Modern King James Version) And when the people had come to the camp, the elders of Israel said, Why has Jehovah beaten us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of Jehovah out of Shiloh to us, so that when it comes among us it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.

Uh Oh! Hophni and Phinehas actually had to go along with the Ark of the Covenant into battle. They were no longer safe behind the lines. Although this rallied the Israelites and scared the Philistines, the Israelites were still beaten that day. Hophni and Phinehas were killed and the Ark of the Covenant was stolen by their enemies. One man survived to take the news to the High Priest who, in his astonishment and grief, fell backwards and broke his neck. Then Phinehas' wife went into labor. She delivered a son but on her deathbed she named the child, "Ichabod". In her great distress she regarded not “the women that stood by her,” but named the child that was born “Ichabod” i.e., no glory, saying, “The glory is departed from Israel;” and with that word on her lips she expired. The death of her husband, brother-in-law, father-in-law, the loss of her position in society, even the loss of the battle meant less to her. It was the loss of the Ark of the Covenant, which signified God's Presence, that she grieved for. She could have named her son after her husband or her father-in-law. But she named her son after the loss of God's glory. The Ark, the symbol of His presence, was taken from them, and carried captive by the enemy. She evidently had more reverence for God than her wicked, cheating husband.

So I've defined the word and we've read the scripture in context and studied the history surrounding the passage.

If you read Psalm 78, God brushes the history of Israel with broad strokes in a summary. Then He says,
Psalm 78: 56-64 (Modern King James Version) Yet they tempted and provoked the Most High God, and kept not His testimonies; (57) but they turned back, and acted unfaithfully like their fathers; they were turned aside like a deceiving bow. (58) For they provoked Him to anger with their high places, and moved Him to jealousy with their carved images. (59) When God heard, He was angry, and turned away from Israel; (60) so that He left the tabernacle of Shiloh, the tent which He placed among men, (61) and delivered His strength into captivity, and His glory into the enemy's hands. (62) He also gave His people over to the sword, and was angry with His inheritance. (63) The fire burned up their young men; and their maidens were not given in marriage. (64) Their priests fell by the sword; and their widows were not able to weep.

This is a very good supplemental reading so I encourage you to read the entire chapter. Again and again, God gave His people chances and withheld judgement in mercy. But they just took advantage of His mercy and judgement had to come. Then they would turn back to Him for awhile only to start the whole process over again. But verses 60-64 summarize the loss of the Ark of the Covenant during the battle in 1 Samuel 4.

As Matthew Henry says in his commentary, "If God go, the glory goes, and all good goes. Woe unto us if he depart!"

So we've studied the meaning of the word, read the verse in context, read about the history surrounding the verse and discussed what it meant to the mother of this child. What does this have to do with us today?

I'm not sure that was suppose to be the proper use of the term. "Ichabod" is descriptive of a terrible thing, to have the Lord remove His Presence. But as New Testament Christians, believers, we are told that God will never leave or forsake us.

(Hebrews 13: 5 (King James Version) Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for He hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.)

I have accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. I believe He is the Son of God, died on the cross and rose again in order to forgive me of my sins and give me eternal life. I know that I am secure in Jesus therefore God will never leave me or forsake me. My salvation is not in question. My name will never be "Ichabod" because NOTHING can take me from His Hands. I have accepted Him as my Father and He has called me His Child. His Holy Spirit now lives in me to help my new spirit to grow. His Spirit will not leave me because I'm a believer. Even though I still sin, I am forgiven and will be with Him in Heaven. The only unforgivable sin is NOT accepting Jesus Christ as the only way to eternal salvation. You have that choice. You can choose to reject Him and His offer of salvation. If YOU choose to reject Him and continue to reject Him up until you die, then God says you will spend eternity in Hell. This is NOT what He wants. He has provided a way to be saved by accepting what Jesus did for you. He loves you which is why He took on the responsibility of providing a way for salvation. He knew we could never save ourselves. We were lost to an eternity in Hell except that He made a way to save us. He paid the price to redeem us. He took the whipping, the beatings, the mocking, the humiliation, the torturous death and rose again! He was 100% human and died. Yet He was 100% divine and rose again. He was able to pay the price for humans and rise again because He was divine. What a mighty and loving God! One that is worthy of our praise!

I have also heard that if people question their spiritual leaders, then that church will become "Ichabod". The glory of God will desert that church. I have a problem with that. The Holy Spirit lives within us, as believers, not within a building or organization. As long as there is a true believer in that church or organization, the Holy Spirit is there because He is in that one person. And, as we have studied, the use of the term was in a story about spiritual leaders who egregiously sinned and did not repent. They were, in essence, evil spiritual leaders. So bad, that the people had complained to their father, High Priest Eli, and Eli did nothing to stop them. He warned them but he did not stop them. This led the people astray. It was because of the leaders that the enemy was able to beat the Israelites, killing thousands, as well as killing Phinehas and Hophni and capturing the Ark of the Covenant.

It seems to me that these spiritual leaders, who had knowingly sinned (they were warned) and had not repented but kept on sinning, called judgement down upon themselves and the people who had blindly followed after them (see Psalm 78). It was this that led to the birth of Ichabod. The people had allowed wicked priests to minister before God in the Tabernacle at Shiloh. They became guilty of collusion by allowing it. I'm sure having wicked priests led the people away from God and following in their sins.

Please don't misunderstand me. I think we should be very careful about criticizing pastors, church leaders, elders, denomination leaders, ministry leaders. It's not something we should do carelessly. That can become gossip, slander and discouragement which are sinful. We don't want to fall into sin ourselves by criticizing, murmuring and complaining. On the other hand, spiritual leaders are only human. They are just as subject to sin and error as any one of us. This means we should be compassionate with them but sometimes they need some correction. And if they refuse correction, sometimes it needs to be taken a step further. Jesus, Himself, said,

Matthew 18: 15-17 (King James Version) Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. (16) But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. (17) And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.

These are the recommended steps to bring about resolution. In the case of leadership, try to talk with the leader. If he doesn't listen, try again but with 2-3 witnesses. My thoughts, at this step, is to let one of the witnesses be one over his head. If he still refuses to hear, tell it to the church. Jesus doesn't say, let the error continue, keep your mouth shut, don't make waves, quietly sneak out the back door. Why? Because that person is one of His Children and the best blessing is for that leader to repent of his/her error. Also you don't want others to fall into sin or to fall away from the faith because of the sin of that leader.

This doesn't mean you attack the person. This doesn't mean you gossip and slander the person behind their back (boy, that's a hard one!). This doesn't mean you never forgive them and hold it against them the rest of your life. This doesn't mean to start a name-calling, rage-filled confrontation. It means you pray. It means you ask for discernment. It means you keep taking inventory of your own self so that you aren't falling into the all too human sins of bitterness, unforgiveness, gossip, etc. (We are all very subject to this, it's a human condition. But we need to fight it and keep asking forgiveness for anything we see cropping up in ourselves. I am not immune, I confess to having made sinful mistakes like this and have asked God's forgiveness.) It means we should keep ourselves under control and speak calmly. If we find ourselves getting too heated, take a prayer break! It means we should follow the steps Jesus prescribed. Whether they ask for forgiveness or not, in our hearts we are suppose to forgive them. If they do seek to be returned to the church, we should compassionately and gratefully welcome them back. There is NO ONE without sin. None of us can cast the first stone. All of us need forgiveness for something we've done, from Jesus and from others. We should be understanding. But, if they never repent and turn from their wicked ways, we are to "let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican." In other words, treat him as though he were no longer a Christian brother, much less a spiritual leader. You need to determine what this means to you and in each situation. You have unsaved friends, can you still be friends with them? Do you continue to reach out to unsaved people, can you continue to reach out to them? It doesn't have to mean they are shunned, unloved, locked out forever. What if it's so bad that they can be sued or charged with crime (as in they robbed the church)? Appealing to a government court is the last thing we want to have to do. We should try all other remedies before that. Sometimes we swallow the loss. But sometimes, it's just that bad and the legal system should get involved. Priests or pastors who have practiced pedophilia should be arrested. It should not be covered up. Just be sure you keep your heart right during the whole process.

Leviticus 19:15-18 (Contemporary English Version) Be fair, no matter who is on trial--don't favor either the poor or the rich. (16) Don't be a gossip, but never hesitate to speak up in court, especially if your testimony can save someone's life. (17) Don't hold grudges. On the other hand, it's wrong not to correct someone who needs correcting. (18) Stop being angry and don't try to take revenge. I am the LORD, and I command you to love others as much as you love yourself.

A pastor, ministry leader, elder, deacon, etc. is someone whom we should respect but they are yet human and subject to sin. It is even more important to keep watch over them. We must keep them in prayer. It is a normal evil human condition to abuse power and all too easy to fall into sin because of that power. And if we are surrounded by people who think we do no wrong, it's just that much easier to take advantage of it. All of us have heard of pastors who fall into adultery, or who have secret sex lives of pedophilia, or have pornography problems. All of us have heard of ministry leaders who have stolen or misused ministry funds. All of us can see, any day, on TV those spiritual "leaders" who ride in private jets and have million dollar houses as they strut in pride in their thousand dollar suits and expensive, fake facelifts. All of us have seen bickering and power plays amongst elders and deacons even in the smallest churches. We tend to think they are immune to the lure of sin because they proclaim to be Christians (they may or may not be) and teach God's Word. But they are not and if we don't watch after them and call them on it, they can fall into some really bad stuff that not only destroys them and their families but makes the cause of Christ look ridiculous. It can do permanent damage to someone's search for salvation. We don't ever want someone to go to hell because we let our spiritual leaders run amuck!

Then there are those who refuse to confront leaders when it's a "little" thing only to see, in horror, that the unchecked leader goes on to bigger sins that affect more people. For instance, we let him get away with using the church's credit card for personal purchases only to eventually find that he's stolen the church's savings account and absconded with the church secretary. We should be good stewards. There are good protocols (financial and otherwise) to follow and it's for very good reasons. It protects the leaders from undue accusations and it protects the congregation from being abused. The leaders should follow the very practical protocols and procedures.

Or what about those leaders who insist that their word is from God and God only speaks through him. That kind of spiritual leader loves to surround himself with "yes men" who only rubberstamp his "mission". If anyone brings up an objection they are labelled "troublemakers" and shunned. This is cult-ish and dangerous. Once someone has that kind of power over people they will abuse it at some point and that can become pretty serious, even life and death. See Jim Jones, David Koresh, etc.

Should we raise objections to every thing the pastor wants to do, every new project, every new idea? No. We should pray, we should discuss, we should come to consensus, we should vote. I mean, if the pastor wants orange curtains and you think that would look ridiculous, be submissive and peacekeeping. If it means all that much to someone to have orange curtains, bite your tongue. It's not a sin to have orange curtains. But if you see real potential for a problem, you should be able to voice your concern in a calm and non-threatening way. Then it should be considered, prayed about, discussed and voted on. If you still think there is something really bad going on and God has given you some discernment about a real problem, or potential problem, you have a responsibility to speak up (following Jesus' conflict resolution steps in Matthew 18). If you perform what God has led you to do and performed your responsibility, then it is up to you to leave or not. If it is something you think is that important, don't just sneak out and never talk about it. Because others are concerned in the situation and they can be hurt if the abuse isn't stopped. If I see an abusive situation and don't intervene am I not part of the problem? But do it thoughtfully, carefully, prayerfully, kindly and with ready forgiveness so that the sin is not yours.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Inferno by Dante Alighieri and Inferno by Dan Brown

Thankfully, I had read Dante's Inferno a good while back and it really helps to read the Divine Comedy before tackling Dan Brown's book, also titled Inferno. Do some study on it. By the way, if you go to Google.com and type in "pronounce Dante Alighieri" to find websites where you can hear someone pronouncing the name. Same with any word you need a pronunciation for. It's pronounced Dahn-tey Al-eeg-yeri.

Dante Alighieri was born about 1265 in Florence, Italy. His mother was mother was Bella, probably of the Abati family and she died when he was about 10 years old. His father was Alighiero di Bellincione, a White Guelph (pronounced Gwelf as rhymes with self). Alighiero soon brought another woman to the house named Lapa di Chiarissimo Cialuffi. They may or may not have been actually married but she did bear him 2 additional children. Francesco and half-sister Tana (Gaetana). At 12 years old, Dante was contracted in marriage to Gemma di Manetto Donati, daughter of Manetto Donati, member of the powerful Donati family. But Dante had met Beatrice Portinari (known as Bice) when he was only 9 years old and had fallen in love without even a word between them. Years after his marriage to Gemma he claims to have met Beatrice again after he was 18 and there were greetings in the street but never a relatiionship. He wrote poetry about Beatrice but not about Gemma. She was his muse. By the time he was exiled in 1301 he and Gemma had three children named Pietro, Jacopo, Antonia and, later, Giovanni. When Beatrice died in 1290, Dante sought refuge in Latin literature.

A full length portrait of Dante Alighieri by Andrea del Castagno in 1450AD.

A profile portrait of Dante by Sandro Botticelli. He is wearing a laurel wreath to symbolize his expertise.

The Guelphs and Ghibellines (pronounced Gib-a-leens) were factions supporting the Pope and the Holy Roman Emperor, respectively, in central and northern Italy. During the 12th and 13th centuries, the split between these two parties was a particularly important aspect of the internal policy of the Italian city-states. The struggle for power between the Papacy and the Holy Roman Empire had arisen with the Investiture Conflict which began in 1075 and ended with the Concordat of Worms in 1122. However the division between Guelphs and Ghibellines in Italy persisted to the 15th century. Dante's father suffered no reprisals after the Ghibellines won the Battle of Montaperti in the middle of the 13th century. This could mean that Alighiero or his family had some protective prestige and status or that Alighiero was of such low status he was not considered worth exiling. Dante's family had loyalties to the Guelphs, a political alliance that supported the Papacy. The Ghibellines, who were backed by the Holy Roman Emperor.

Dante fought with the Guelph cavalry at the Battle of Campaldino in 1289. This victory brought about a reformation of the Florentine constitution. To take any part in public life one had to enroll in one of the city's many commercial or artisan guilds, so Dante entered the physicians' and apothecaries' guild.

After defeating the Ghibellines, the Guelphs divided into two factions: the White Guelphs — Dante's party, led by Vieri dei Cerchi — and the Black Guelphs, led by Corso Donati. Although the split was along family lines at first soon there arose opposing views of the papal role in Florentine affairs, with the Blacks supporting the Pope and the Whites wanting more freedom from Rome. The Whites took power first and expelled the Blacks. In response, Pope Boniface VIII planned a military occupation of Florence. In 1301, Charles of Valois, brother of King Philip IV of France, was expected to visit Florence because the Pope had appointed him peacemaker for Tuscany. But the city's government had treated the Pope's ambassadors badly a few weeks before, seeking independence from papal influence. It was believed that Charles had received other unofficial instructions, so the council sent a delegation to Rome to ascertain the Pope's intentions. Dante was one of the delegates.

Pope Boniface dismissed the other delegates and asked Dante alone to remain in Rome. At the same time (November 1, 1301), Charles of Valois entered Florence with the Black Guelphs, who in the next six days destroyed much of the city and killed many of their enemies. A new Black Guelph government was installed, and Cante de' Gabrielli da Gubbio was appointed podestà of the city. Dante was condemned to exile for two years and ordered to pay a large fine. The poet was still in Rome where the Pope had "suggested" he stay, and was therefore considered an absconder. He did not pay the fine in part because he believed he was not guilty and in part because all his assets in Florence had been seized by the Black Guelphs. He was condemned to perpetual exile, and if he returned to Florence without paying the fine, he could be burned at the stake. Dante became bitter at the treatment he received from his enemies and disgusted with the infighting and ineffectiveness of his party so he vowed to become a party of one. He went to Verona as a guest of Bartolomeo I della Scala, then moved to Sarzana in Liguria. Later he is supposed to have lived in Lucca with a woman called Gentucca, who made his stay comfortable.

A statue of Dante Alighieri at Piazza Santa Croce made by Enrico Pazzi. Piazza Santa Croce is one of the main squares of the centre of Florence, Italy.

In 1310, Holy Roman Emperor Henry VII of Luxembourg marched into Italy at the head of 5,000 troops. Dante saw in him a new Charlemagne who would restore the office of the Holy Roman Emperor to its former glory and also retake Florence from the Black Guelphs. He wrote to Henry and several Italian princes, demanding that they destroy the Black Guelphs. Mixing religion and private concerns, he invoked the worst anger of God against his city and suggested several particular targets that were also his personal enemies. In Florence, Baldo d'Aguglione pardoned most of the White Guelphs in exile and allowed them to return; however, Dante had gone too far in his violent letters to Arrigo (Henry VII) and his sentence was not revoked. In 1312 Henry assaulted Florence and defeated the Black Guelphs, but there is no evidence that Dante was involved. Some say he refused to participate in the assault on his city by a foreigner; others suggest that he had become unpopular with the White Guelphs too, and that any trace of his passage had carefully been removed. Henry VII died (from a fever) in 1313, and with him any hope for Dante to see Florence again. He returned to Verona, where Cangrande I della Scala allowed him to live in certain security and, presumably, in a fair degree of prosperity. In 1315, Florence was forced by Uguccione della Faggiuola (the military officer controlling the town) to grant an amnesty to those in exile, including Dante. But for this, Florence required public penance in addition to a heavy fine. Dante refused, preferring to remain in exile.

Prince Guido Novello da Polenta invited him to Ravenna in 1318, and he accepted. He finished Paradiso, and died in 1321 (aged 56) while returning to Ravenna from a diplomatic mission to Venice, possibly of malaria contracted there. He was buried in Ravenna at the Church of San Pier Maggiore (later called San Francesco). Bernardo Bembo, praetor of Venice, erected a tomb for him in 1483. Florence eventually came to regret Dante's exile, and the city made repeated requests for the return of his remains. The custodians of the body in Ravenna refused, at one point going so far as to conceal the bones in a false wall of the monastery. Nonetheless, a tomb was built for him in Florence in 1829, in the basilica of Santa Croce. That tomb has been empty ever since, with Dante's body remaining in Ravenna, far from the land he had loved so dearly.

The Museum of Bargello

The Chapel of Bargello

The fresco in the Chapel of Bargello that includes Dante in the red cloak. It was done by Giotto di Bodoni and is the oldest portrait of the poet and done during his lifetime.

To give you a short summary of Dante's Divine Comedy... it's an epic poem in 3 books: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradisio. Dante is guided through his idea of Hell first by the Roman poet, Virgil, and then by Beatrice, the object of his love. Virgil guides Dante and explains what they see along the way. They begin by going through the gates of hell called the Vestibule and traversing the circular path down through funneling levels that take him to the core in the center of earth where satan, himself, dwells. Each level of hell is reserved for punishing certain sins.

Dante on earth with the rising island of Purgatoria behind him and the Gates of Hell on the left with demons herding people down to Hell. It is a fresco in the nave of the Duomo of Florence, Italy and was done by Domenico di Michelino.

Diagrams of the circles of Hell

Diagram of just Upper Hell

Diagrams of Lower Hell
The 8th Circle of Hell is actually filled with 10 circular ditches to be crossed. Each ditch filled with people being punished. This 8th Circle of Hell (with it's 10 ditches) was called The Malebolge ("ditches" and pronounced Mal-ai-bole-cheh).

Diagrams of the Eighth Circle of Hell called The Malebolges with it's ten ditches.

Lower Hell

"Geryon's flight" see below

A section of Virgil leading Dante (the ones in color) through the 8th circle of Hell called the Malbolges. The Malbolges are a series of ten ditches where sinners are punished. This shows the first and second ditches.

When they finally arrive at the lowest circle of Hell where satan is, we are surprised that it is not a fiery inferno but rather a frozen lake filled with frozen people. I can only tell you that this description gave me the chills, literally. Satan stands in the frozen lake with wings outspread, his 3 faces eating people.

Botticelli's Map of Dante's Hell

A closeup of the section of Botticelli's Map of Dante's Hell that shows the bottom of Hell where satan stands in the frozen lake. He is devouring people from all of his three faces, his wings oustpread.

Until you read it for yourself you cannot understand how Dante's Hell seems to catch the horror of hell. It is NOT a comedy as we know "comedy". "In the fourteenth century, Italian literature was, by requirement, divided into two categories: tragedy, representing high literature, was written in formal Italian; comedy, representing low literature, was written in the vernacular and geared toward the general population." pg 82 of Dan Brown's Inferno.

Here are photos of things and places in Dan Brown's book.

This is Michelangelo's Last Judgement

The part in Michelangelo's Last Judgement that shows Charon wielding his oar forcing straggling passengers out of his boat and into Hell to be greeted by demons.

A portion of Michelangelo's Last Judgement that shows the crucifixion of Haman the Agagite. The Bible has Haman as being hung but Dante had him crucified and that's the way Michelangelo painted it.

Geryon as the Master of Fraud has the head of an honest man but the paws of a lion, the body of a wyvern (winged creature with a reptilian body, two legs, a barbed tail, and a poisonous sting at the tip of his tail.) He comes to meet and transport Virgil and Dante to the eighth circle. This lithograph is one of Gustave Dore's Inferno series.

Catrovacer (Cerca trova)("seek and ye shall find") is a mysterious inscription that is located at the top of Giorgio Vasari’s mural of the "Battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana" (1563) in the Palazzo Vecchio in the town hall of Florence, Italy. This Palazzo Vecchio is a massive, Romanesque, crenellated fortress-palace. It's in the Salone dei Cinquecento (Hall of the Five Hundred). The Battle of Anghiari (1505) is a currently lost painting by Leonardo da Vinci referred to as "The Lost Leonardo" and which some think has been found BENEATH Vasari's mural.

La Porta Romano in Florence

Pitti Palace

Boboli Gardens

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy with the Piazza dell Signoria

Studiolo of Francesco de Medici

The Baptistry of San Giovanni

The Gates of Paradise at the entrance of The Baptistry of San Giovanni

The interior of the dome ceiling.

The Baptismal Font at the Baptistry of San Giovanni

Santa Lucia

Gondolas and their Ferro di Prua

St. Mark's Basilica, Venice, Italy

Sophia Hagia in Istanbul, Turkey

The Basilica Cistern, Yerebatan Saray─▒, "Sunken Palace". It is the largest of several hundred ancient cisterns that lie beneath the city of Istanbul (formerly Constantinople), Turkey.

The upside down Medusa head

I did enjoy reading Inferno by Dan Brown. There was too much action in a 2 day period. It keeps your mind whirling. But because of the action it also keeps your interest.

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