Mar 092014

Question by d_malfoy7: How does the punishment of the alchemists fit their crime in Dante’s Inferno?
The alchemists (falsifiers of metals) are covered in scabs that itch. They tear their own skin apart by scratching it. How does this punishment fit the crime?

Best answer:

Answer by r
Essentially, the traditional answer is that Alchemists corrupted God’s creations through their art. Therefore, their punishment is for their bodies to be corrupted into putrid, rotting hunks of flesh.

While this makes sense, I personally feel that the decomposition of flesh may also allude to the long term effects that Alchemists may have experienced. If one is, for example, working extensively with lead trying to turn it into gold, one may easily develop lesions that could become quite disgusting infections. An Alchemist’s experiments dealt with other caustic or carcinogenic elements (mercury, sulfur, and the like). I suspect that an alchemist would have looked like the ‘before’ pictures on a ProActive commercial. Hence Dante taking that image to the extreme. One would have seen the illness suffered by alchemists as a divine punishment in life. Why not carry over that apparent punishment to eternity.

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