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Fraud: the Gravest Sin of All

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“Abandon all hope ye who enter here” (Alighieri, 1321/1954, p.18) ---- an inscription that is found on the gates of Inferno which foreshadows the fate of the soul of the sinner as said in “Inferno” by Dante Alighieri. The book tackles different natures of sins that individuals have committed and the corresponding punishment that they will receive in different circles of Hell (Ciardi, 1954). Alighieri (1321/1954) notes that although incontinence and violence are serious sins, fraud is considered as the worst type of sin because it betrays a whole community of people and breaks the trust of one’s kin. According to the Shmoop Editorial Team (2008), fraudulent people are worse than incontinent and violent people because they have the ability to harm large groups of people instead of harming an individual. Fernando (2013) also notes that fraud also attacks the weak links in society. Fraud is a wicked act of man which God abhors the most. Gray (1998) states that “Dante possessed an encyclopedic knowledge and an unforgiving eye” (p. 26) since he condemned the fraudulent historical figures who were involved in scandals into various pouches in the eight circle of Hell. Dante placed those that went beyond personal betrayal into public treachery in the lowest parts of Inferno, which was the ninth circle. Alighieri (1321/1954) also categorized fraud as “man’s peculiar vice” (p. 85) because to him, condemning innocent others to sin through deceitful words is the worst possible act. Fraudulent people are placed on the lowest circles of hell and their punishments are the gravest among the other sinners Hell (Alighieri,1321/1954). Ciardi (1954) notes that Circle 8: Malebolge contains “those who are guilty of simple fraud” (p.143) while Circle 9: Cocytus contains “those who are guilty of treacherous fraud since they committed treachery against those whom they were bound by…...

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