Sign sitting above the gates of Hell. Meant to scare you, if you aren't already scared by the endless screams of torment by those on the other side of the gate. Makes an appearance in the Infocom game Zork.
Often translated as `all hope abandon, ye who enter here'. In the original mediaeval Tuscan, it was Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate. The full text of the Gate:
Per me si va ne la città dolente,
Per me si va ne l'etterno dolore,
Per me si va tra la Perduta Gente.
Giustizia mosse il mio Alto Fattore;
Fecemi la Divina Podestate,
La Somma Sapïenza e 'l Primo Amore.
Dinanzi a me non fuor cose create
Se non etterne, e io etterno duro
Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch'intrate

-- Dante Alighieri (La Divina Commedia, Canto III.1--9)

Ere from their thought creation rose in flower
Eternal first were all things fixed as they.
Of Increate Power infinite formed am I
That deathless as themselves I do not die.
Justice divine has weighed: the doom is clear.
All hope renounce, ye lost, who enter here.

-- Stephen Fowler Wright

Through me the road to the city of desolation,
Through me the road to sorrows diuturnal,
Through me the road among the lost creation.
Justice moved my great maker; God eternal
Wrought me: the power, and the unsearchably
High wisdom, and the primal love supernal.
Nothing ere I was made was made to be
Save things eterne, and I eterne abide;
Lay down all hope, you that go in by me.

-- Dorothy L. Sayers

Through me the way into the suffering city
Through me the way into the eternal pain
Through me the way through the Lost People
Justice moved my High Artificer
My maker was divine authority
The highest wisdom, and the primal love.
Before me nothing was created
That was not eternal, and I endure eternally.
Abandon all hope, you who enter!

-- compilation of various translations


Wright's translation is somewhat annoying in that, while it has frequent rhymes, it does not have a rhyme scheme per se, much less the strict terza rima of the Tuscan. I find Sayers's version to be just as elegant and readable, while preserving the energy of the rhyme.

If anyone has the first three lines of Fowler's translation of Canto III, please let me know. The text of the Fowler translation above was assimilated from the writeup by dem bones which formerly stood at the top of this node.

The first words of the first sentence of the first chapter of Bret Easton Ellis' American Psycho begins with this phrase from Dante's The Inferno in capital letters:

"ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE is scrawled in blood red lettering on the side of the Chemical Bank near the corner of Eleventh and First and is in print large enough to be seen from the backseat of the cab as it lurches forward in the traffic leaving Wall Street..."

The appearance of these words as the beginning of the novel can be interpreted as indicative that the rest of the book portrays a Hell of sorts. Despite all the sadistic joys Patrick Bateman (the central character) indulges in throughout the book (without getting into whether or not he actually did, depending on how you look at it) in the end he's still as dissatisfied with everything as he was in the beginning, if not more so. This interpretation is also supported with the book's closing words ("THIS IS NOT AN EXIT"), implying that Bateman has not escaped what he has descended into: The book ends but Hell does not. This ties in with the satire of the extremes of the 1980s that the book is. The world may, more or less, have emerged from those extremes and vices but Bateman, as the personification of those extremes and vices, cannot escape from them. At least, not so easily.

In the translation by John Ciardi, used in the Modern Library Edition of Inferno the first nine lines of Canto III read as follows:


I AM THE WAY INTO THE CITY OF WOE.
I AM THE WAY TO A FORSAKEN PEOPLE.
I AM THE WAY INTO ETERNAL SORROW.

SACRED JUSTICE MOVED MY ARCHITECT.
I WAS RAISED HERE BY DIVINE OMNIPOTENCE,
PRIMORDIAL LOVE AND ULTIMATE INTELLECT.

ONLY THOSE ELEMENTS TIME CANNOT WEAR
WERE MADE BEFORE ME, AND BEYOND TIME I STAND.
ABANDON ALL HOPE, YE WHO ENTER HERE.


This is inscribed directly on the gate to Hell and does not serve as a warning because all oncoming souls are already damned. It is simply informative and rhetorical to a point. Vergil informs Dante that it does not apply to him.

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