Canto 34 is divided into two equal parts. The first part contains the description of the part of Hell called Judecca and the sight of Lucifer.
The second part is comprised of a description of Dante’s departure from Hell and the story of the angel Lucifer, his rebellion and defeat.
In the Judecca traitors to God are punished, and Dante identifies these with traitors to the Catholic Church and the Empire.
Most of these damned shades are buried in the ice, and Dante can not talk to any of them. Three of these damned souls are devoured by Lucifer himself: the greatest traitors to God, namely, Judas, the betrayer of Christ, Brutus and Cassius.
The name Lucifer means “bringer of light”. In fact, in Christian theology, he was an angel who rebelled against God and therefore fell from Heaven to the Underworld.
Dante describes Lucifer as a defeated angel, but not in a grotesque way, as many of his contemporary painters did, who depicted him with horns and an animalistic appearance.
According to Dante’s view Lucifer has a great bulk, but appears almost human because evil is a human trait!
Lucifer is trapped in ice from the waist down. His enormous head has three faces with different colors, each of which are beneath enormous bat wings that create the wind and form the ice. While tears flow from his six eyes, his three mouths devour the damned.
In Dante’s cosmology, Lucifer is situated in the farthest place from God. At the exact opposite of Paradise, an imaginary line runs from God, through the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve sinned, comes to Lucifer and finally ends in Jerusalem, the city where the son of God died.
Dante’s journey through hell lasted 24 hours, from sunset to sunset.
It was from there that we emerged, to see – once more – the stars.
The word “stelle” (stars) furnishes the final rhyme of each of the Divine Comedy’s three principal parts: Inferno, Purgatorio and Paradiso.
With this word did Dante wish to emphasize the object of his symbolic journey and of the journey of humanity on earth? We do not know for sure but it is certainly not accidental.