Not surprisingly, Genshin’s hell is a place of tortures, both numerous and horrific. In a level called Receiving-Limitless-Suffering, wardens use iron shears to cut out the victims’ tongues which, like Prometheus’s liver, grow back repeatedly only to be cut out again and again. The tortures of Genshin’s hell are so awful, in fact, that “if anyone should describe it thoroughly or listen to a full description of it, he would vomit blood and die” (the punishment of child molesters is particularly disturbing and will not be described here). Like Dante, Genshin used remarkable poetic imagery. In Dark-Fire-Wind the souls of heretics are carried up into the sky by “an evil wind,” twirled around like the wheel of a cart, “spinning so fast as to be invisible,” then are cut into pieces “as small as grains of sand and scattered in fragments in all directions,” only to reconstitute and go through the process again and again. In some levels of hell iron mountains tumble from the sky. Others are filled with “burning fire of such intense heat that ordinary fire seems like snow,” causing the bodies of sinners to “shrivel up as small as a mustard seed.” Occasionally “swords sharp enough to split a hair…fall like a large waterfall from the sky.” In one level sinners are immersed in a boiling river. To try to escape “is as vain as a mantis fighting against an axe, or a monkey trying to grab the moon.” The punishments in Genshin’s hell can also be quite poignant. One punishment reminiscent of the tortures of Tantalus, has sinners parched by the heat reaching for water which dries up and ceases to flow or suddenly turns into flames and burns them. In another, “those who partook in evil passion” wander a forest of sword blades. They look up to the top branches and see beautiful and well-dressed women, the faces of those whom they once loved. They lacerate themselves as they climb the trees, but when they reach the top the object of their desire appear below beckoning them to come down. The swords then turn upwards as the sinners, slow learners, shimmy down. This goes on for ten trillion years.
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