Dante’s Inferno Dante Alighieri (1265 – 1321) Inferno completed in 1317 The Divine Comedy completed in 1321 Had an arranged marriage, but he was in love with another, his childhood sweetheart, Beatrice, who died in 1290.
Dante and the Church • He saw the Church, under the leadership of Pope Boniface VIII, as a corrupt institution wrongfully involved in temporal and political affairs. (Boniface exiled Dante from Florence in 1302 due to political differences.) • He believed it should be God’s spiritual and ethical arm while the Empire executed God’s will on earth. • Instead the Church, in Dante’s eyes, had lost sight of its original spiritual purpose.
Main Issues of Dante’s Inferno • A means of addressing personal, social, political, and historical problems • The afterlife as a symbol for the material realities, spiritual nature, and consequences of the secular world. • Contrapasso: the sin equals the punishment; sinning is its own hell as it destroys the very life of the sinner • A catharsis; a way for Dante to work out, and overcome, his anger.
A confrontation with the problem of evil and the realization of evil in the self. • A reassessment of the lives and deeds of the sinners in hell. • Questioning of various dogmas(an official system of principles concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc.) • Implicit reinterpretation of the meaning of spiritual death and the second coming of Christ • The ultimate challenge of the text is that of embracing love, forgiving and rejecting anger and evil; the reunion with Beatrice as a symbol of that accomplishment
Dante’s Poetic Structure Terza Rima the rhyme scheme Dante invented for the 14,233 lines of his poem. aba bcbcdcded … yzyz The number of lines in any given canto is always a multiple of three (tercets) with one line left over.
Miscellaneous Terms Bolgia – a ditch of stone Malebolgia – “Evil Pocket” Allegory - a symbolic narrative