Stock Photo Hell
Betrayal of Guests
We kept talking and farther on came to other shades–
Their heads were crudely cocooned in ice;
Their faces, instead of bent down, were turned up.
Their very tears prevent them from crying.
The evidence of their grief is stopped at the edge
Of their eyes and backs up to increase their misery.
The initial tears freeze and form a glass ledge
That catches the next set and on and on until finally
The entire eye socked is filled with ice.”
–Canto XXXIII, Mary Jo Bang translation
This is it, everybody. This is, as Shepard Book says, the Special Hell, where those who have betrayed their guests go. (No official word on people who talk in the theater.)
The main person that Dante and Virgil talk to in this section, Ptolomea, is a man named Fra Alberigo. Well, more accurately, a soul named Fra Alberigo, because what he tells them is new and different even by the standards of the Inferno: Fra Alberigo isn’t actually dead, technically. As soon as he’s committed his particularly nasty sin, which in his case was inviting guests over for dinner and then eating them Hannibal-style, his soul was whisked down to Ptolomea while his body moves around on autopilot, “taken over by a devil,” until the end of its days. The name “Ptolomea” is likely from Ptolemy of the Book of Maccabees, who killed his kids and father-in-law after inviting them over as guests.
Search terms: cannibalism, betrayal of guests, bad host, bad hostess
So “betrayal of guests” was vastly too specific for either of my stock photo sites, “bad host” gave me nothing useful (some broken computer cartoons, an inexplicable Italian gay pride parade), “bad hostess” was mostly pictures of sold-out Twinkies.
But “cannibalism,” hoo boy.
Cannibalism pictures ranged from horrifyingly racist to delightfully surreal.
So let’s get the overt racism out of the way:
There’s a lot of shit like that, usually vector images rather than photos. It’s almost as if real people don’t want to make overly racist caricatures of themselves. (Er, thinking back to other bits of Stock Photo Hell, though, I guess I need to amend that to “don’t want to make overtly racist caricatures of themselves this one specific time.”)
And to be fair, there were also “editorial” photos of actual tribe members from headhunter tribes in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. Also a picture of the Easter Island heads, even though cannibalism during the downfall of Easter Island has been generally debunked.
Anyway, moving on to the delightfully surreal:
Next up: The Final Installment of Stock Photo Hell!
Spoilers: We get to meet Satan. Whoa.