For one thing, Dante never read Homer.
Like most medieval Christians, Dante did not have direct access to the original Greek texts. Instead, they would've learnt of ancient Greek mythology through the works of later Roman poets, principally Virgil and Ovid, who inevitably added their own interpretation to the epics. Dante, moreover, seem not to have even ...
Why is the Devil also known as Lucifer (and other names) three-faced?
To understand this symbolic meaning of Dante in his Canto XXXIV, we have to have a basic understanding of the beliefs of the Catholic Church.
First of all, the devil was a murderer and the father of lies from the beginning.
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye ...
It's worth looking further down Canto XXXIV (I'm using a slightly different translation) to see just who is stuffed into Lucifer's mouths:
"That upper spirit,
Who hath worst punishment," so spake my guide,
"Is Judas, he that hath his head within
And plies the feet without. Of th' other two,
Whose heads are under, from the murky jaw
Who hangs, is ...
Dante conceived of the architecture of Hell as an inverted church. The higher circles are lesser sins, and each descending circle represents what he saw as greater sins.
The sin of Lust was, to Dante, getting so swept up in your passion or your emotion that you lost sight of God. That was both Dido's and Cleopatra's besetting sin.
From John Ciardi's ...
The metaphor was (probably) inspired partly by Medieval literature (courtly or theological) and partly by Virgil's works, for example the "Georgics" that, in part, discusses the myth of Orpheus, who attempted to rescue his dead lover Eurydice from the Underworld.
Besides this, as was already said in a comment, Dante could be influenced by the Italian ...
Translator-poet John Ciardi (Dante, The Inferno, Signet Classics, 2001, p. 139) offers the following annotation:
GERYON. A mythical king of Spain represented as a giant with three heads and three bodies. He was killed by Hercules, who coveted the king’s cattle. A later tradition represents him as killing and robbing strangers whom he lured into his realm. ...
Symbolically, Dante's rendering is a metaphor for fraud: a human face (honest and just) atop a monstrous personage
Multiple heads or bodies in the Classical depiction can indicate deception strategies. (For instance, one head could befriend you while the others plot your destruction. If multiple bodies, one could attack from behind.)
For example, Ravanna,...
Perhaps to emulate the old statue of the Goddess Hekate. The youth, the priestess, the wise crone. Before Virgin Mary with Vesica Pisces was placed on the crossroads all across Europe, Hekate was the Goddess of the Underworld and Crossroads. Dante Alighieri might have seen a similar statue amongst the ruins or in some private possession.