Converted into Original Chaos

Dante’s Inferno has an extraordinary passage where Dante likens Christ’s harrowing of hell to the pre-Socratic Empedocles’ cosmic forces of Love and Strife. The Inferno passage is:

Now I would have you know: the other time

that I descended into lower Hell,

this mass of boulders had not yet collapsed;

but if I reason rightly, it was just

before the coming of the One who took

from Dis the highest circle’s splendid spoils

that, on all sides, the steep and filthy valley

had trembled so, I thought the universe

felt love (by which, as some believe, the world

has often been converted into original chaos);

and at that moment, here as well as elsewhere,

these ancient boulders toppled, in the way.

Dante’s Inferno, Canto 12 (Lines 33-45)

Here’s the poetry line from Empedocles’ work on Strife and Love, “Should the elemental matter feel harmony (Love/Mutual Atraction) all would fly together in chaos.”

Symbolically, Christ is the force of Love that would recombine the distinct components into the same original chaos. For Empedocles, however, Love divine was Aphrodite.