Bullheads and Horse's Asses
Within the seventh circle -- which houses the violent -- there are different levels, or "rings," corresponding to the degree of seriousness. You might say there is first, second, and third degree violence, against man, self, and God.
All of the violent "have fallen under the power of gravity" (Upton). As we have discussed in the past, man lives between two vertical attractors, one above and one below. The Law of Gravity is complemented by the Law of Levity, and our free will determines whether we float upstream or swim downstream with the terrestrial and eventually subterranean tide.
There is blood at both ends of this stream. If the redemptive blood of the Savior is at the top, then the immorally violent "are immersed in Phlegethon, the river of boiling blood." One might say they are perpetually burned in the blood they have shed -- the innocent blood which cries out from the earth.
To express violent anger is liberating, but in a false manner. It "may feel like a kind of expansion, but it ends by turning us to stone" (ibid.). Children raised by violent parents have a way of turning themselves to stone. They literally shut down sympathetic responses and brain reactions, and "play possum," so to speak, on an interior level. They are able to pre-emptively endeaden themselves in the face of stress or danger.
I see this all the time in adults raised by violent and uncaring parents. Ask them about it and they either "zone out" or confabulate a stream of disjointed gibberish.
Of note, this can even occur in children who are brutally shamed, for dysregulated shame is a kind of internalized attack on the self. Experience of the wider reality grinds to a halt amidst a cascade of neurobiological processes and even postural changes, e.g., slumping, as if one could hide one's head in one's shoulders.
And blushing -- one of the biological markers of shame -- may be thought of as a kind of blood that boils to the surface.
At the deeper levels of the unconscious mind, the separation between psyche and soma become blurred.
Note that for Dante, the violent are ruled and guarded by the Minotaur and centaurs, respectively, who are half animal and half-human, i.e., part psyche and part soma. Both are sub-human, but in differing ways. Furthermore, as Upton notes, each is a kind of mockery or "demonic parody of the Incarnation."
Recall that the centaur has a horse's body with a human head, whereas the Minotaur is a human body with the head of a bull:
For the Minotaur, anger completely dominates the pneumacognitive faculties, whereas the centaurs at least have some degree of human control. But the centaur's faculties are ultimately enslaved "from below, from the unconscious" (Upton). While they may "have good native intelligence," they "are in bondage to their passions" (ibid.), which drag down and limit the intelligence.
The distinction between centaur and Minotaur marks the transition from the merely luciferic -- in which darkness constantly interferes with the Light -- to the truly demonic, in which Darkness rules.
The latter types are truly frightening, since they are literally mammalian or even reptilian. The Minotaur is "the evil genius within the soul whose conscious thoughts are demonic." These are the the souls who conceive "of evil systems, both philosophical and social" (Upton), not to mention political and economic.
One of the central goals of psychoanalytic therapy is to "make the unconscious conscious," so that one may gain insight into the infra-human centaur, so to speak. The Minotaur also makes the unconscious conscious, but in a perverse way.
Actually, the Minotaur renders the conscious unconscious, by legitimizing our most barbaric tendencies, often by calling them "natural" -- as if savage nature is anything for humans to emulate!
For It is above all against what the mob proclaims to be “natural” that the noble soul rebels. And When a revolution breaks out, the appetites are placed at the service of ideals [the centaur]; when the revolution triumphs, ideals are placed at the service of the appetites [the Minotaur] (Don Colacho's Aphorisms).
Note that the denizens of Hell "are there for 'pleasure' in the sense that in life they were attracted to the evils that now torment them" (Upton).
Here we are reminded of another A. by D.C, Hell is the place where man finds all his plans realized. For the Minotaur, the "head" is no longer an image of God, but an image of animality triumphant.
And to live as an animal is to abrogate one's freedom and submit to bondage, whether to impulses, genes, instincts, natural selection, dialectical materialism, "corporations," it matters not.