Imagine being trapped in a frozen lake with only your head above the ice for the rest of your days. These are the days of death for the sinners who turned away from the light while still living.
Welcome to Circle 9, of Hell.
In life, the sinners denied God’s love and all human warmth. Now they must be furthest removed from it in death. Every inch of their bodies are bound in the ice, except for their heads. Some can not even bow their heads to weep, so their tears freeze their eyes shut.
Dante writes, “And leaving him, I saw a thousand faces discolored so by cold, I shudder yet and always will when I think of those frozen places” (Dante 263).
These people Dante has judged as the worst of all and fears their punishment.
This lake is up to their necks, their past sins holding them still for all eternity.
There is no hope here. Time is frozen in place, without end.