"There is in Hell a vast and sloping ground
called Malebolge, a lost place of stone
as black as the great cliff that seals it round."

-Inferno Canto XVIII II. 1-3


Dante and Virgil must next descend a steep cliff by riding on the back on Geryon, a winged monster with three heads. After this they reach the eighth circle, reserved for those guilty of fraud. This circle is referred to as a Malebolge, which translates as evil pockets. There are ten Bolgie, which means ditches of stone, within the Malebolge.
The first Bolgia is for panderers and seducers. Here souls are whipped by Demons while marching in line. They encounter Jason, who seduced Medea in order to gain her help, but later deserted her for Creusa. The next Bolgia has flatterers, which are those who exploit others through the use of language. These souls are condemned to be submerged in excrement, which represents everything they spewed from their mouth. The third Bolgia features the simoniacs, who engaged in fraud related to spiritual endeavors, such as sacraments. One of the souls they encounter here is named Simon Magus, who was condemned for offering holy power to Saint Peter in exchange for money. The fourth Bolgia has those souls guilty of being sorcerers and false prophets. They have their heads twisted around on their bodies so that they are facing backwards. This punishment is meant to reflect their lack of foresight due to relying on superstition and fraudulence. The fifth Bolgia has corrupt politicians, known as barrators, who are immersed in a boiling pitch, which is boiled down tar. The stickiness of the boiled tar is thought to be representative of the politicians' sticky fingers. The sixth Bolgia features hypocrites who are weighted down by lead cloaks, which is supposed to make their spiritual progress impossible. The lead cloak preventing their progress represents how their false beliefs held them back in life. Bolgia seven includes thieves. Here the souls are chased and bitten by snakes and other lizards. The snake bites cause the souls to transform, sometimes to ashes, as is the case with Vanni Fucci (a violent member of the White Cancellieri faction of Pistoia), or sometimes they become merged with creatures, as with Agnello. The souls found in Bolgia eight are those referred to as evil counselors, people who used their positions in society to spur others to act fraudulently. These souls are enveloped in their own personal flames as punishment. Here Dante encounters Ulysses, also known as Odysseus, who has been condemned for his part in the deception of the Trojan horse. The sowers of discord are found in the ninth Bolgia, where they are perpetually hacked apart by a demon. As soon as their wounds heal the demon slashes them again. This punishment of corporeal division reflects how these characters divided others on earth. Dante comes across Muhammad here and refers to him as a schismatic. This term refers to those who create a division within a group, such as a religious denomination. This indicates that Dante felt that Islam originated from Christianity, but branched off from it and created a separate group. The tenth Bolgia belongs to falsifiers that are afflicted by various diseases. This punishment stems from the idea that they were a disease to society while living.