Inferno By Dante Alighieri
Dante Alighieri’s life • Born in Florence, Italy in 1265 • Family of old lineage and noble birth but no longer wealthy • Arranged to marry GemmaDonati when he was 12 years old • Eventually married and had two sons and one daughter • Studied at the University of Bologna – one of the most famous universities of the Medieval world • Influenced by Ser BrunettoLatini (famous scholar of the time) • He appears in Canto XV of Inferno.
Dante’s involvement in Politics • Completely involved in political causes • Florence had two political parties • Guelphs: Supported the Pope as the ruler of the Roman Catholic Church, but believed he should NOT be involved in secular affairs • Separation of church and state • Dante belonged to this party - this often put him at odds with the Pope • Ghibellines: Believed the Pope should rule BOTH secular and religious factions
Dante was often sent to arrange peace between the two warring parties. • On a mission to Rome to arrange a truce between the two parties, trumped-up charges were made against Dante. • Accused of GRAFT: getting money or a position by unjust means • Intrigue against the peace of the city and hostility against the Pope • He was fined heavily and ordered to report to the council to defend himself • He did not appear • His property was confiscated, and he was sentenced to burn at the stake if caught. • 1302- Dante was exiled form his native city of Florence • However, he was well received in other cities due to the popularity of The Divine Comedy.
Dante Dies • Dies in Ravenna, Italy in 1321 • Florence has tried to secure his remains many time, but has failed • He’s buried in the monastery of Franciscan friars in Ravenna.
Background on Inferno • Dante wrote the epic poem The Divine Comedy which is divided into three parts: • Inferno • Purgatario • Paradisio
Inferno • Means “hell” or “huge fire” • Dante used a legend that a huge hole was made in the earth when God threw Satan (Lucifer) and his band of rebel angels out of heaven with such force that they created a giant hole • Therefore, hell is a giant funnel-shaped hole • Sinners whose sins were the least offensive are in upper circles near the entrance. • More offensive sins/sinners were on descending circles toward Satan in the center • Dante chose a well-known figure of the time or from history / legend to illustrate the sin.
Rivers of Hell • Acheron – River of Woe • Styx – River of Hate • Phylegethon – River of Fire (Blood) • Lethe- River of Forgetfulness • Cocytus – River of Ice (Satan is here)
Purgatorio • Also known as Purgatory • Place between heaven and hell where a soul is “purged” of sin
Paradisio • Also known as Paradise or Heaven • Also has circles but filled with levels of angels
More background Info. • It is called The Divine Comedy because in classic terminology, it is a work that begins in confusion and misery, but ends in happiness. That is the definition of a comedy. • Each of the three sections contains 33 cantos (chapters) • Inferno does have one extra canto • Dante is so well-respected because The Divine Comedy made the Italian language unified.
Importance of Numbers - Three • Number of the Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) • Number of the parts of The Divine Comedy • Number of divisions in hell • Number of the days of Dante’s journey through hell
Importance of numbers - nine • Multiple of three • Nine circles in hell
Importance of numbers - ten • Perfect number • Nine circles in hell plus the vestibule
Inferno Relates to the 7 deadly sins mentioned by Saint Thomas Acquinas 7 Deadly Sins 7 Cardinal Virtues Wisdom Courage Temperance/Patience Justice Faith Hope Charity • Pride • Envy • Anger • Sloth/Laziness • Greed/ Avarice • Gluttony • Lust
Characters in Inferno-Dante • At the age of 35 on the night of Good Friday in the year 1300, Dante finds himself in a dark wood full of fear • Lost hope/no faith in his life • Meets Virgil who promises to lead him on a journey through Hell so he may be able to repent and enter Paradise
Characters in - Virgil • A shade who takes Dante on his journey • Greatest poet • Symbol of human reason • Considered a great person – represents the “Truth” or “True Way” for Dante • Father of the Italian people • Wrote The Aeneid– epic about the founding of Rome
Characters in Inferno-BEatrice • She was the real platonic love of Dante’s life • His inspiration • Example of Divine Love • She is in Paradise and sends Virgil to guide Dante because she is concerned for Dante’s soul.
To get you started… • Canto I • Midway through Dante’s live (35 years old) he realizes he has strayed from The True Way into the Dark World of Error. • Sees the first light of sunrise (Divine Illumination) lighting on a hill (Mount of Joy) • It’s Easter Season – time of repentance and rebirth • He sets out to climb the hill but is blocked by 3 beasts • Three Beasts of Worldliness
To get you started… • Three Beasts of Worldliness: • Leopard of Malice and Fraud • Lion of Violence and Ambition • She-Wolf of Incontinence (failure to restrain appetites and passions) • Each beast represents types of sins in increasing harshness = levels of Hell
To get you started… • Beatrice sends Virgil to guide Dante • First, he must descend through Hell – recognize his sin • Then, he must ascend through Purgatory – renounce his sin • Last, only then can he reach the pinnacle of joy and come into the Light of the Lord • Virgil can only guide Dante as far as Human Reason can go • Another guide – Beatrice – (symbol of Divine Love) will guide him for the final assent
Canto II • Invocation of the Muse • Vestibule of Hell • Evening of the first day (Good Friday) • Dante is following Virgil and despairs because he doesn’t feel worthy of the vision Virgil describes. • Virgil tells him that Beatrice (Divine Love) is concerned about Dante, and she came to Virgil in Limbo and asked him to guide Dante • Dante understands Beatrice and other heavenly forces cannot fail him, and he travels onward
Canto II Continued… • Three Ladies in Heaven: • Virgin Mary • Saint Lucia (Lucy) – patron saint of eyesight (Divine Light) • Saint Rachel – represents the contemplative life (Old Testament) • All of these ladies care for Dante.
Canto III • Vestibule of Hell • The Opportunists- pursue their self-interests only • Sin: They are neither in Hell or out –people who won’t choose – IRONY • Punishment: Chase an empty banner in a whirlwind of insects • They pursue the ever-shifting illusion of their own advantage – chase an ever-shifting blank banner • Gate of Hell- “Abandon all hope ye who enter here.”