The Holographic Engineers

The scene in which the Prometheus Crew explore the Engineer temple to Shaw and Ford experimenting on the head of the Engineer correlates with the Canto 13 of Dante’s Inferno.

In Canto XIII Dante and Virgil enter a darkened wood populated twisted and gnarled trees, just like in Prometheus the crew enter the pyramid populated by darkened twisted caverns. After In this wood he can hear cries but cannot determine where they seem to be originating from, much like the start of the hologram where they can hear a screech in the tunnel followed by the ghostly holograms of the engineers as they run for their lives from some unknown evil.


With some prompting from Virgil, Dante plucks a branch from a close by thorn bush and to his surprise, the bush wails, and starts to bleed, and exclaims

“Why dost thou rend my bones?” (13.35)

Prompting Dante to question his acts of destruction to the bush despite its initial appearance, it was not dead at all and could feel pain. Which brings me to the point where Elizabeth Shaw and Ford bring the Engineer Head back to life, their curiosity in finding out what caused its death also causes it the further pain by reanimating it.

“We wield an incredible power, to transform, to destroy and to create again, the question of course before us is what the hell we are supposed to do with this power or more importantly one should ask what we are allowed to do with this power, the answer to that my friends is nothing, rules, restrictions, laws, ethical guidelines, all but forbidding us from moving forwards” – Sir Peter Weyland, TED Talk 2023

The tree explains that all the trees in the forest were once humans but are reincarnated as trees, their branches pecked and pulled by banshees as their punishment. Virgil apologizes to the tree but says that only by plucking a branch could Dante believe that the trees used to be people. Likewise with Shaw and Ford, if they hadn’t conducted test they wouldn’t have discovered the link to mankind with DNA.


The bush tells Dante how he came to be there, it turns out he had taken his own life and suffered the sin of suicide. Minos cast him into the 7th circle of Hell, Ring 2 which turned him into a bush and will suffer pain and anguish from his leaves being eaten for eternity. Feeling sorry for the bush’s story of woe, Dante gathers up the boughs scattered by the banshees and brings them back to it. Realising the Bush had come from the same hometown as Dante, Florence. Shaw collects the Engineer’s head like Dante gathered the boughs, Shaw and Ford realising the Humans came from the Engineers is just like Dante realising the Bush was a native of his hometown as well.