from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The concept that the punishment of an individual's soul in Hell corresponds to the sin that person committed on earth.


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Coined by Dante in his work Inferno, from Italian contra, "counter", and passo, "step, pace."



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  • Contrapasso is the process by which souls serve penance in Dante's "Inferno" according to the nature of their sins in life.

    A literal translation would be "counter-suffering".

    An example of this would be in Canto XX, where the fortune tellers and diviners walk backwards for eternity, with their heads turned around to face behind them, and their eyes blinded with tears.


    January 17, 2009

  • A free translation would be "counter-suffering". A literal translation would be "counter-step".

    January 17, 2009

  • Contrappasso in modern Italian.

    Bilby: I actually think it's from Latin patior, "I suffer".

    January 17, 2009

  • Prolagus, how is it used in Modern Italian?

    Aviva, the image from the Inferno is remarkable.

    January 17, 2009

  • Well, the same way, more or less. All Italian high school liceo students study La Divina Commedia for three years, so it's a very popular concept.

    January 17, 2009

  • The same way? You mean to describe somebody whose walking backward, weeping, with their face turned in the direction they're walking. Does this happen a lot in Italy?

    January 17, 2009

  • Doesn't that happen everywhere? You always consider "normal" what you grow up with.

    January 17, 2009

  • You know, I misread the original comment and, misled by Bilby's interpretation of the word, really did think this meant "walking backwards" and couldn't understand the "suffering" part of it. But now I see it describes what in English we might call comeuppance or just deserts.

    January 18, 2009