No Joke, Dante puts Michael Scott in Hell
I’ve been slowly making my way through Dante’s Inferno over the past month. The work is full of incredible spiritual insights and is endlessly entertaining. But for all its greatness, nothing will stick with me more than these lines from canto XX:
“That other there, who looks so lean and small
In the flanks, was Michael Scott, who verily
Knew every trick of the art magical” (Lines 115-117).
When I read this I immediately thought of this memorable scene from The Office:
Can you believe it? Two magicians who share the same name. How awesome is that?
But of course, Dante was referring to the Michael Scott of his day, not the regional manager of Dunder Mifflin Scranton. The real Michael Scott was an actual magician. Born in 1175, the Scottish wizard became widely known for his accomplishments in mathematics, astrology, and philosophy. He is credited with translating a number of the works of Aristotle. But his work in the occult sciences solidified his reputation as a magician, and ultimately led to Dante placing him in the depths of Hell with the other sorcerers.
The whole thing makes you wonder if Dante was speaking prophetically when he put Michael Scott with the magicians in Hell.
I guess we’ll never know.