Stock Photo Hell
Bolgia Nine: Sowers of Discord and Schism
All the others you see here,
While alive they spread strife and divisiveness;
That’s why down here they’re now torn in two
There’s a devil back there that sticks it to us
With such cruelty, cutting us all with his sword
As if we were a ream of paper
Every time we circle this sorry road,
Since all our gaping wounds
Will have closed before we pass him again.”
–Inferno Canto XXVIII, Mary Jo Bang translation
There are more graphic parts of this canto, but it’s Monday, and there’s only so much ripping-in-half-with-organs-hanging-out that I can handle on a Monday morning.
Yes, the schismatics and sowers of discord are literally ripped into parts and reassemble only to be ripped apart again. Contrapasso, folks, is what’s happening here: ironic punishment befitting the crime. Dante and Virgil talk to people who caused wars and military discord, those who sowed political chaos, and those who caused religious schism. Dante places both Muhammed and Alí (Muhammed’s son-in-law, head of the Shiite order) next to each other in this bolgia, presumably both being punished for splitting Islam into two factions. They, particularly Muhammed, are displayed as stoic/heroic sufferers rather than braggarts or unrepentant sinners, which many of the folks Dante talks to seem to be. Gosh, if only Martin Luther had been around in Dante’s time, I’m sure he would have ended up here, too.
Anyway. My search terms were “discord” and “schism.”
The “schism” results, on the other hand, were mostly churches. Schismatic churches? Maybe. Also the image that graces the top of this post, which wins the Most Relevant to Dante award.
My stock photo sites mostly interpreted “discord” as “conflict,” although there was also one photo of a person doing karaoke. The conflicts seemed to break down into a few basic categories: internal conflict, a quarrel between two little girls, family infighting (husband/wife, mother/daughter, brother/sister), or BUSINESS CONFLICT. Demographically, the people involved in discord and schism were probably 90% white, and there was almost always a woman or girl represented in anything that wasn’t a guy yelling at himself.
The BUSINESS DISCORD was all v. dramatic. My personal favorite was the most dramatic office of all time:
Generally the “marital discord” pics were of people literally in wedding clothes scowling, although there was also a pair of secret agents getting married that got stuck in with the other couples:
In an unsurprising twist, I found lots of cheesy images of spousal abuse, too. There were women hitting men with pans, men hitting women with belts, and then this couple going mano a mano with vaguely gender-coded boxing gloves:
And finally, this image, which I can only presume is a young wife becoming angry at her husband for refusing to join the Discordian Society.
Next up: The final bolgia of Fraud!
Spoilers: It’s pretty gross. I know I say that a lot, but really.