Stock Photo Hell


Circle Nine: Betrayal

When we were much lower in the dark pit,
Far beneath the giant’s feet,
And I was still looking up, marveling at the wall,

I heard a voice say to me, “Watch out where you walk.
Be careful not to step on the heads
Of the sad burnt-out brothers.”

I turned and looked down. Where I was standing–
And stretching out in front of me–was a frozen lake
So thick it looked more like glass than water.

-Canto XXXII, Mary Jo Bang translation

And so, lowered by giants* into the final pit, Dante and Virgil and us, dear reader, have reached the ultimate circle of Dante’s Inferno. Like the Malebolge, the circle of betrayal, a.k.a. Cocytus, is subdivided into four subsections. plus the chewy center of Hell, which we will get to in due time. In general, though, the final circle is a lake of Satan’s frozen tears, which is pretty gosh-darn metal. I also am that pedant who, when someone utters the phrase “when hell freezes over,” at least thinks about the very center of Hell being already frozen. Usually it’s inappropriate to geek-correct. Someday I’ll geek-correct someone and they’ll geek-correct me right back with Milton’s concept of Hell which has a burning lake of fire in the center, and then we will have to be best friends forever.

In any case, the first part of this final circle is called Caina, and reserved for those, like the Biblical Cain, have betrayed their kin. All the people in the circle of betrayal are stuck in the icy lake, but those unfortunates who landed themselves in Caina are stuck up to their faces in ice. He meets and chats a little bit with one guy, who tells him about some of the people there: a guy who’d killed his cousins, two brothers who killed each other, and presumably Mordred of the King Arthur tales.

My search terms: betrayal, family betrayal, traitor, traitorous woman, and for the header image “giants”

So…Stock Photo Land has decided that betrayal means one of two things: infidelity in a relationship, or else the sort of bad business deal that involves a lot of very literal back-stabbing.

Oh come on, get your back-stabbing technique right. That's just going to be awkward.

Oh come on, get your back-stabbing technique right. That’s just going to be awkward.

Otherwise this was the motherlode of pictures of infidelity, which almost always followed the exact same story: a woman discovering her man’s infidelity, usually by means of a brightly colored bra or artistic lipstick stains on the collar. Frankly most of them were very dull.



This one, however, can get folded into my secret Sister Mary Ann Fuckoff fanfic universe:

"I have realized the error of my ways and I am pledging myself to the Church of Jesus Tapdancing Christ. This is their holy sign.

“I have realized the error of my ways and I am pledging myself to the Church of Jesus Tapdancing Christ. This is their holy sign,” smirked Brad.

We’ll see if I can wrassle anything interesting up for other flavors of betrayal next week. Who knew Stock Photo Land could make betrayal so…banal?

Next up: Betrayal of Homeland
Spoilers: It’s still in Cocytus. The weather continues cold.


*The giants are not minions like the Malebranche demons, but also sinners being punished. For example, one of them is Nimrod, i.e. the Biblical hunter who helped make the Tower of Babel. He babbles unintelligibly and Dante and Virgil as they pass. The giants serve as the barrier between the circles of fraud and betrayal. Many of them are pretty mean, so Virgil totally has to butter one up with praise and manipulation in order to convince him to help them down into the final pit.

Bonus giants pic:

I actually kind of like this one? "Giant Business Woman"

I actually kind of like this one? “Giant Business Woman”