In Dante Alighieri’s medieval poem The Inferno, the third circle of hell is reserved for the gluttons. Everything in this circle is like a huge garbage dump. The dead gluttons lie in a “putrid slush” while being deluged with “huge hailstones, dirty water, and black snow.” This landscape sounds almost as bad as Minnesota in March.
(For more information on The Inferno, see my previous post here.)
But that’s not all! Added to this frozen rain of hell is the punishment inflicted by the triple-headed dog Cerberus, who “howls through his triple throats like a mad dog / over the spirits sunk in that foul paste. / His eyes are red, his beard is greased with phlegm / his belly is swollen, and his hands are claws/ to rip the wretches and flay and mangle them” (Canto VI, Circle 3, lines 14 – 18). These gluttonous souls are buried like garbage, and the mad dog Cerberus devours them like so much leftover meat.
Dante believed the gluttons deserved such punishment because when they were alive, they could think of nothing better to do with their God-given gifts than to wallow in food and drink. They thus deserve to spend eternity “rotting like a swollen log.”
In the past, whenever I read this description of the gluttons in hell, my first reaction was to think, “oh, crap. I really need to give up those Snickers bars before I end up here.” This time, though, reading about the Third Circle gave me a business idea. I am going to create and promote the Dante’s Inferno Weight Loss Plan. First, I will open up a chain of weight-loss centers across the nation. My plan will work a bit like Weight Watchers. Clients will agree to follow a reduced-calorie diet, and will meet once a week for a weigh-in. If they lose weight, all is well.
However, if they do not lose weight, they will then be sent immediately (through a trap door) to Dante’s Third Circle of hell, where they will remain for a week. After being slobbered over and gnawed at for a week by Cerberus, they will probably become so nauseated and disgusted that they will not be able to eat much. They will come back after their “adventure” a few pounds lighter, but more important they will be motivated to stay on their diets forever, in order to avoid such punishment again.
With The Inferno plan, my clients will not only lose pounds, but they will lose the weight of their sins as well and can move on directly to Purgatory.
What do you think of my plan? It’s brilliant, right? All I need to make it work is a partner who is willing to invest a few billion dolllars to help build a replica of The Inferno. (We could probably have it double as a theme park as well, now that I think of it.)
Are you in?
Want to know which circle of hell you belong in? Click here to find out.