Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here

Meaning of “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here”

This phrase has been borrowed from Dante’s ‘Divine Comedy’ written in 1320. It means to abandon all your hope. It is said to have inscribed at the entrance of hell. The phrase also serves as a warning similar to ‘proceed with caution’, ‘stay away’ or ‘do not enter’. It makes it clear to the people entering a hopeless situation or place that there is no way out or no return. In other words, it also means a situation could be very dangerous, but this phrase is often used in a humorous sense.

Origin of “Abandon Hope All Ye Who Enter Here”

The phrase is translated from Italian sentence, “Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” coined by Alighieri Dante in his famous epic Divine Comedy written between 1306 to 1321. There are various versions, but the version of Divine Comedy translated by H. F. Cary is given below. The phrase is used the last line of the second stanza.

Justice the founder of my fabric mov’d:
To rear me was the task of power divine,
Supremest wisdom, and primeval love.

Before me things create were none, save things
Eternal, and eternal I endure.
All hope abandon ye who enter here.”

Examples from Literature


Abandon hope all ye who enter here by M. A. Morten from Mind Flowers: Poetry and Problems

You saw into my soul.
The blue eyes at the night café.
All the warning signs,
And wet slippery floors before me.
My heart started to melt.
There the two of us,
We’re lost in the underworld.
Dreadful shadows
Under the trees.
Even in there,
I the writer,
You the reader,
We learn.

The first thing in afterlife is survival.
You can’t sell your soul,
If you don’t have one.

Now run!
Run from old friends and Devils,
Flying above the city
Never will I spend the night in vain again
All the power to you, but don’t use it.
Just because you can.

Now run!
Towards your soul and the wanted.
The blooming mind flowers.

Morten has pictured the city as an imaginary inferno and describes its diabolical circumstances. However, instead of lying in the limbo, he asks his beloved, who is with him, that they would naturally like to run from their friends and Devils to survive. This seems a spiritual journey toward mental thinking that all is not lost. The title of the poem points out that mind can create hell and heaven no matter what the situation a man faces.

Example #2

From Heart of Oak by Tristan Jones

“I doubled over to the pile of cases and kit-bags, picked up my own sea-bag and doubled as fast as I could away from Bulldozer. It was good five minutes before a crusher pulled me up with a yell, ‘Nozzer!’, and asked me where I was going, then send me in opposite direction right across the parade ground again, dodging the marching and running squads of trainees, out through the gate and a half mile down a lane to where a large sign said ‘HMS Ganges Annexe’. It might as well have said, ‘Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here.”

This is a popular book of Tristan Jones about his voyages on the trading ships and then his tenure in the Royal Navy at the young age of sixteen years. This paragraph tells his days when he was with the trainees. He reaches a point where he thinks that they cannot return to civilian life anymore. That is why he has used this phrase that they have no hope to return. He has rather denormalized the training process and war itself.

Example #3

From The Ransomed Heart by John Eldredge

“Having abandoned desire, we have lost hope. C. S. Lewis summed up: “We can only hope for what we desire.” No desire, no hope. Now, desire does not always translate into hope. There are many things I desire that I have little hope for. I desire to have lots more money than I do, but I see little reason to think it will come. But there isn’t one thing I hope for that I do also desire. This is Lewis’s point. Bland assurances of the sweet by-and-by don’t inflame the soul. Our hopes are deeply tied to our real desires, and so killing desire has meant a hopeless life for too many. It’s as if we’ve already entered Dante’s Inferno, where the sign over hell reads, “Abandon hope, all ye who enter here.”

This paragraph has been taken from the famous book by John Eldredge, The Ransomed Heart. This book is the collection of devotional writings of John Eldgredge. He has taken common feelings and emotions and turned them into insights for the common readers. Commenting upon desires and hopes he has reached the end where he refers to Dante citing this phrase to point out that excessive desires make situations hopeless. Therefore, a person should not harbor excessive desires.

Examples in Sentences as Literary Devices

Example #1: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here is exactly like you have entered this room and do not find a way out.” This phrase has been used as a simile as it is similar to a person who enters a closed room.

Example #2:  When I go to the place, I fell my mind warning me – Abandon hope all ye who enter here. Is this a garden entrance or a door to hell. Here the phrase is used as described in the meaning.

Example #3: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here is actually the inferno of Dante.” Here this phrase has been used as an allusion because it alludes to the inferno of Dante even if it is used in some other sentence and context.

Example #4: “Abandon hope all ye enter here or abandon all ye who hope here are two entirely different things.” Here the phrase has been reversed, which is a good use of chiasmus where two phrases are reversed in order.

Example #5: “Abandon hope all ye who enter here shows that you have accepted your fate and become hopeless at this point of your life.” This phrase has been used as a metaphor here.