Saturday, May 3, 2008


I am currently in grading hell. I've got approximately 500 pages of student writing to critique before I can call this semester quits and I'm theoretically on sabbatical (although I have yet to be convinced that that actually means anything). My experience has inspired me to research various cartographic representations of hell, in search of a place similar to my current state of being.

Here is Sandro Botticelli's illustration from the early Renaissance:

Seems a big rocky.

A couple by Stradano (circa 1580):

All based on Dante's vision. So I guess we better check out what signor Alighieri had to say on the topic.

Well, if we closely examine Upper Hell, I see a couple possibilities. I might be in Circle V: the Wrathful. But that's not usually my grading style. I don't feel any sense of vengeance or wrath in my heart as I grade these damnable things. Lower Hell looks more promising...

I'm not a Sorcerer (though that sounds awesome). I might very well be a Hypocrite, but that only vaguely has to do with grading. I think Sower of Discord is probably the most applicable.

Discord, as in "lack of agreement or harmony (as between persons, things, or ideas)." Yeah, that sounds like grading. So, as I suspected, I may well be in one of the deepest levels of hell right now - the only pathetic few I see beneath me are the Falsifiers and the Giants.

Botticelli's representation of the Sowers of Discord:

I'm pretty pumped. Plus, I get to hang out with this guy: Bertran de Born, who's carrying around his own head as a lantern in the 8th circle. Apparently, he used to piss people off by fueling and exploiting the dissension between the British and French in the 12th century.

Hey Bertran, can you move your head over here a little? I can't make out this what this honors student is trying to say about Bandura and objectification (oh dear god...).

A final note. Level 5 in Lower Hell is dedicated to Barrators, and I was curious as to the term. A barrator, not surprisingly, is someone guilty of engaging in barratry:


n. pl. bar·ra·tries
1. The offense of persistently instigating lawsuits, typically groundless ones.
2. An unlawful breach of duty on the part of a ship's master or crew resulting in injury to the ship's owner.
3. Sale or purchase of positions in church or state.

This does not bode well for modern legal counselors (1) or politicians and their lobbyist pimps (3). Unless Dante was referring to definition #2, in which case, most of us don't have much to worry about.

No comments:

Post a Comment