Thus hell may be defined as the place where the light fails, or in which divine intelligence is so diluted by matter as to be incapable of controlling the manifestations of force.
In ancient times Hell, or Hades, was a place neither of reward or punishment, but was simply the home of the dead, good and bad alike, the word primarily signifying nothing more than the hollow grave, hole, pit, cavern, or other receptacle which receives the dead
Dostoyevsky's journey through Hell, like Dante's, is partly a spiritual journey but it is also a journey through the Hell on Earth that humanity has created.
The Commedia shows how when we behave badly in this life we are already constructing a Purgatory, a Hell, for ourselves in another dimension that intersects with our everyday lives. We are already suffering, tormented by demons. If we do not aspire to move up the spiral of the heavenly hierarchies, if we 'make do' with purely earthly successes and pleasures, we are already in Purgatory.
The idea that Hell was hot comes from the fact that the sun was hot. In Egypt the sun is hot, a lot hotter than it is in other countries. In Egypt it is hot! They figured that when the sun goes down at night, it must also be hot while it is going through the Earth. So if you die and go into the Earth it must be hot. Of course, when volcanoes blow up hot stuff, that proves that the Earth is hot. So if you go into Hell and you die, you go to Hell, and it is hot. You go into the Earth, it is hot. Actually, the word Hell is Nordic and it was spelled Hel, not Hell. It meant a place where you bury something like a grave. If you bury something in a hole and cover it up, that is Hel, in the Scandinavian tongue. Therefore, if you put something over your head to cover it, that is a hel met. Because that is what hel meant, covering something up.