Infernal Symbioses:

Reading Dante’s Inferno in the Chthulucene


  • Rawitawan Sophonpanich Thammasat University


Chthulucene, Dante Alighieri, symbiosis, Inferno, posthumanism


This article explores the possibility of foregrounding Dante’s Inferno from the epic La Divina Commedia in this day and age of environmental crises. This catastrophic state has androgenic origins and has been labeled by climate scientists as the “Anthropocene” – a new geological era marked by the ways in which humanity has irrevocably altered the earth system. Nevertheless, Donna Haraway has voiced her opposition against this classification, postulating that it contains too much nihilistic and pessimistic connotations that function to discourage humans from doing the work necessary to alleviate the crises. Haraway therefore proposes “Chthulucene” to denote the temporally and spatially nonspecific epoch in which humans must learn to live with the trouble. This article features a re-reading of Dante’s Inferno in the scope of the Chthulucene. It shows that even though the work was written in the medieval period, it is still possible to read Inferno in the Chthulucenic context. This possibility draws upon the discovery that (1) the narrative focuses on the journey of the protagonist through a blasted landscape of Hell, which is described as ruins, and (2) in order to get through such a landscape, it is imperative to build alliances with other beings, which is comparable to what biological science calls symbiosis.

Author Biography

Rawitawan Sophonpanich, Thammasat University

Faculty of Liberal Arts 



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How to Cite

Sophonpanich, R. (2023). Infernal Symbioses: : Reading Dante’s Inferno in the Chthulucene. Journal of Letters, 52(2), 73–90. Retrieved from



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