Inferno begins with Dante lost in a dark wood, assailed by beasts he cannot evade, and unable to find the straight way to salvation. Conscious that he is ruining himself and that he is falling into a dark place, Dante is at last rescued by Virgil, and the two of them begin their journey to the underworld. Allegorically, the Inferno represents the Christian soul seeing sin for what it really is, and the three beasts represent three types of sin: the self-indulgent, the violent, and the malicious.
The Divine Comedy represents a vision of the afterlife of the medieval world-view as it had developed in the Western Church by the 14th century. The narrative describes Dante's travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, while allegorically the poem represents the soul's journey towards God. The poem is widely considered to be the pre-eminent work in Italian literature and one of the greatest works of world literature.