Saturn was an angel of God banished to hell because he thought himself better than God when God chose Jesus over him. God wanted to punish mankind for his sinful ways, but Lucifer thought that it was not right as man lacked knowledge (Bloom 3). He tempted Eve into eating the fruit from the tree that should not be eaten because of this. Lucifer was the most beautiful of all angles, but he wanted more. He wanted power, so he rallied the angles of heaven and told them to join him in an attempt to overthrow God from power. He did not succeed and because of this, God banished him to hell as Saturn and the angels that helped him were made the demons of hell (Bloom 18).
Dantes Inferno doesnt, however, explain Saturn as an angel before his downfall to hell. In this poem, he is the king of all demons. The ruler of all sinners, demons and beasts of hell. He is the demon that holds all sins and has three faces that symbolize his cunning ways (Hunt 5). This faces are ugly beyond explanation and brings out a sense of not being alive and not being dead either all at the same time. A symbolism for how ugly all sins are.
Paradise Lost depicts Saturn as having one head (Bloom 12). In Inferno, Saturn has three heads and a set of wings under each head. One head faces straight ahead while two faces backwards. All three heads chew the three ultimate sinners in the Bible, starting afresh after finishing the chewing recurrently. The head that is facing forward has Judas Iscariot in its mouth. Judas is the ultimate sinner for betraying Jesus with just three pieces of silver coins. His head is in the mouth while his feet are dangling outside (Hunt 14).
The two faces that are pointing backward have Brutus and Cassius in their mouths. They are ultimate sinners for having plotted the assassination of Julius Caesar. Cassius was a Roman senator in Caesars government while Brutus was Caesars close friend. Unlike Judas, their heads are protruding from the mouths while their feet are inside (Hunt 14).
In both books, Saturn is depicted as a giant. He has great arms and a large torso in Inferno, a symbolism for being the ultimate evil. He is depicted as a giant because he holds all the evil that is known to mankind. Also, as a king of hell, he needs to preside over his kingdom, punishing the sinners while at the center hell.
Paradise lost depicts Saturn as being arrogant and cunning yet charismatic (Bloom 14). He rallies the demons of hell and tells them that the war is not over yet. To him, God is a tyrant as he is selfish. He argues that all angels ought to be gods to who mankind worship. The demons see him as a hero though he brought about their downfall from heaven and that of mankind to sinful ways.
In Inferno, hell is a place where all the damned souls are banished for endless torture. It is frosty, bitter and cold. The devil strives to keep it so by continuously waving his wings. In Paradise Lost, However, Saturn describes hell as a retreat (Bloom 43). A safe haven, in fact, where he would rather be and rule than be in heaven and be a subject.
Both poems are a work of literature that use symbolism as a tool to explain what hell will be to mankind. Though Paradise Lost depicts Saturn as a charismatic and arrogant being and makes readers feel like siding with him, he is cunning and should not be trifled with as he means only worse shown by his fall from heaven and the destruction of mankind. Inferno, on the other hand, puts it out as it is. Hell is no place to be.
Bloom, Harold. John Milton's Paradise Lost. Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 2000. Print.
Hunt, Patrick. The Inferno, by Dante. Pasadena, Calif: Salem Press, 2012. Print.
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