Circle II of Dante's Inferno is inhabited by those who Dante dubsTHE CARNAL. These shades succumbed to the earthly temptations of lust and desire in their lifetime and must now spend eternity floating aimlessly in the winds of hell.

Willian Blake - The Whirlwind of Lovers Canto V "The Carnal"
Willian Blake - The Whirlwind of Lovers Canto V "The Carnal"


In the Second Circle, the Poets are blocked to the journey to Hell proper by Minos who judges the damned and their transgressions. Virgil silences him and the Poets move on to find themselves swept by a great whirlwind. Floating in this wind are the shades of “those who sinned in the flesh, the carnal and lusty who betrayed reason for their appetite.” Just as they were swept away by temptation in life, so will they be forever uncontrollably swept by the winds of hell.

Characters/ Shades/ Umbri:

Minos: The king of Crete and the subject in many legends, in all of which, he was surrounded by transgressors. This may be why Dante chose him to judge the transgressions of the damned.

Semiramis: One of legendary Assyrian queens. For her the Hanging Gardens of Babylon were erected. She was said to have married her son after her husband’s death.

Dido:founder and queen of Carthage (city on coast of northern Africa); known for her love affair with Trojan hero Aeneas; subject of Virgil’s epic poem Aenied, in which Dido and Aeneas fall in love and live together until the gods tell Aeneas he is destined to found a new city in Italy for the Trojans. He leaves and Dido orders a funeral pyre to be built, climbs onto it, and stabs herself to death.

Cleopatra: (VII) queen of Egypt during Ptolemaic Dynasty; love affairs with both Julius Caesar and Mark Antony; Julius Caesar was killed because of his affair with Cleopatra; her affair with Mark Antony led to a war between Egypt and Roman Empire, the two eventually committed suicide

Helen: "Helen of Troy," after years of marriage to Menelaus, ran of with (or was abducted by) Paris, the son of King Priam of Troy. The Greek leaders then rangled together the greatest army they ever had to retrieve her, waging what is referred to as the Trojan War.

Achilles: mightiest of the Greek warriors in the the Trojan War. He is said to have had a number of romances, including a love affair with
Penthesilea (an Amazon maiden he killed in battle) and a marriage to Medea.

Paris: It was foretold Paris would be the downfall of Troy. With the help of Aphrodite, Troy sent of fleet of ships to kidnap Helen. Helen's very powerful suitors were leaders of Greece and declared war on the Trojans.

Tristan: best known as the lover of Iseult due to Wagner's opera, Tristan und Isolde

Paolo & Francesca: Francesca was appointed by her father to marry Gianciotto in order to solidify peace between Ravenna and Malatesta. Because of Gianciotto's unfortunate looks and facial deformities, Gianciotto sent his brother Paolo to meet Francesca before the wedding. Francesca fell in love with Paolo but was then fooled into marrying Gianciotto. Once she realized this, she started a love affair with Paolo. When Gianciotto discovered this, he killed them both in a jealous rage.