Warm-up #13 • Why was Don Quixote a flawed hero? • What does Miguel Cervantes’ story imply about chivalry and the feudal system?
Introduction to Dante • Dante Aligheri (1265-1321), of Florence, Italy. • One of the 4-5 greatest poets of the Western tradition (with Homer, Virgil, Milton, Goethe). • His masterpiece (The Divine Comedy) combines Greek philosophy & the Biblical worldview.
Structure of the Divine Comedy • Three Parts: • The Inferno (Hell). A depiction of the consequences of unchecked evil. • The Purgatorio (Purgatory). A representation of human nature in this life (of which purgatory is an extension): the conflict between good and evil. • The Paradiso (Heaven). The ultimate, supernatural end of human life. The vision of God.
Issues to Consider • Love as the source of both good and evil. • The paradox of free will: is it compatible with a scientific (Aristotelian) picture of the workings of human nature? • The relationship between body and soul.
Faith & Reason • Dante gives a high status to natural reason. • Virgil, Dante’s guide through hell and purgatory, was a pre-Christian Roman poet. • Aristotle is described as “the father of them that know.” • The philosophers and poets in limbo, although unbelievers, are treated with great respect, and suffer only the sadness of the loss of heaven.
Limits of reason • At the same time, Dante clearly asserts the limits of reason, and that it must be supplemented by faith. • Beatrice (representing grace) must take over for Virgil as Dante enters heaven. • Certain mysteries (like that of free will) lie beyond the scope of reason to explain completely. • The souls in heaven, enjoying the vision of God, have transcended all natural limitations.
Dante Reader • Read the text. • Mark the text • Number the paragraphs • Circle key words • Underline main ideas • Annotate (write in the margins) • Answer the review questions on the back.