Snakes of Time in Dante's Hell Essay

1314 Words 6 Pages
"Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit” (Romans 3:13). Snakes have been a universal symbol of fraud in literature since “The Fall,” when God transformed Satan into a beguiling snake and “[c]ursed” Satan to slide “on [his] belly” for all eternity for his deception (Alter 41). Dante uses snakes in his epic poem, the Inferno, to tie the fraudulent nature of thieves to their punishment in the seventh bolgia of the eighth circle of Hell. Snakes have metaphorically slithered through time and shed, taking on new appearances as deceivers in society. In 2005, they revealed a new face, Olatunji Oluwatosin, an identity thief. From his base in Los Angeles, Olatunji Oluwatosin stole private information, such as credit card …show more content…
Decker arranged a sting operation to catch this culprit. Caught in this operation, Oluwatosin “dropped the paperwork he had just received” in terror and was taken to the Los Angeles Country Superior Court, where he received an appropriate punishment of “ten years in prison” under charges of identity theft (O’Harrow, Mimoso). Similarly, Dante’s Inferno forces the “naked and terrified” thieves to run from venomous snakes with their “hands behind their backs,” “without a hope of hiding” (Alighieri 251). The thieves who once were concealing themselves are now exposed. Moreover, with Oluwatosin’s numerous stolen identities, his crimes resemble the “chelydri and jaculi, phareans, cenchres, and head-tailed amphisbenes” of Libya (251). Oluwatosin assumed these identities to camouflage himself, much as snakes do in their environment. However, once apprehended, both the thieves of Dante’s fourteenth century Italy and today’s society must endure punishment. As the United States court system sentenced Oluwatosin to ten years in prison, Dante Alighieri arranges a more extreme punishment, where snakes “thrust” between the legs of sinners and form a “knot” in the groin (253). This punishment illustrates the idea of contrapasso, or a fitting punishment. Oluwatosin’s life of crime tied a knot of confinement since his former self could never be restored and his rights were limited in prison. Furthermore, the punishment reveals the