Dante Alighieri: 1265-1321 • An Italian from Florence—Dante advocated for less papal control/ more of a separation of church and state • Pope/Catholic church had great power and influence • Dante was a member of the nobility and an elected official who helped run Florence’s gov’t • His political party was overthrown in 1302 • Officially exiled from Florence/ never returned
The Divine Comedy:A Medieval Masterpiece • Considered to be one of the greatest works of Western world literature • An epic poem of roughly 14,000 lines • Documents the physical and spiritual journey (quest) of a Christian who is also named Dante • Presents Dante’s vision of God’s judgment on every significant aspect of human life
The Divine Comedy: A Religious Quest The entire journey is expected to turn Dante forever from error. It is a journey toward truth and grace in God’s favor. The Comedy is divided into three parts: • Part 1: Recognizing sin (The Inferno) • Part 2: Rejecting sin and awaiting redemption (The Purgatorio) • Part 3: Achieving salvation through faith in divine revelation – God’s light in paradise (The Paradiso)
Literary Elements • Allegory A literary work with two levels of meaning: the literal and the symbolic • Symbolism The underlying meanings associated with concrete objects or actual events • The Number 3 Representative of the Christian concept of the trinity:(The Father / The Son / The Holy Spirit) • Allusion Reference to a famous person, place, historical figure or event, work of art, or piece of literature
Dante’s contribution to literature…. **At this time, most writers wrote in Latin (language of scholars) **Dante—poets should write in vernacular (language of the people—in this case, Italian)
Literary Elements:The Use of the Number 3 The Structure: begins w/an introductory chapter then: • Three sections of 33 CANTOS (chapters) • Written in TERCETS (three-lined stanzas) • Uses a rhyme scheme called TERZA RIMA: • The middle line of one tercet rhymes with the first and third lines of the next tercet Example: Rhyme scheme-- aba bcb cdc ded
Literary Elements:The Use of the Number 3 The average Medieval life expectancy: THREE SCORE AND TEN Midway through this time frame (35 years), Dante realizes he has strayed from the True Way into the Dark Wood of Error (worldliness).
Literary Elements:The Use of the Number 3 The Time Frame: Dante’s quest takes place over a three day period: • Begins in Hell on Good Friday (the day of Jesus’ crucifixion) • Continues in Purgatory for the length of a day • Ends symbolically in Paradise on Easter Sunday
Literary Elements:The Use of the Number 3 The Plot: The entire action takes place under the guidance of three ladies: • The Virgin Mary: The mother of Jesus who mediates between God and man • Saint Lucia: The patron saint of anyone without spiritual sight • Beatrice: Dante’s love, a symbol of spiritual purity and faith who appears toward the end of the journey and who leads him to Paradise
Part 1: The Inferno • The first section of The Divine Comedy • The best known • the most relevant to today’s culture • the most dramatic • In this section, Dante is accompanied by the Roman poet Virgil who is sent by Beatrice to act as teacher and to clarify ideas that confuse Dante • Virgil’s clear-headedness is the voice of reason and is sharply contrasted with Dante’s confusion - FOIL • The Inferno presents the structure of Hell
Dante’s Hell (The Inferno) • Hell is located deep inside the Earth • There are nine levels or concentric circles • At each level, Dante meets suffering souls tormented for eternity in ways that befit their sins • The condemned include people from the ancient world as well as people from Dante’s own time • The worst sinners are placed at the lowest levels (6-9), farthest from God
The Circles of Hell • People who sinned but prayed for forgiveness before their deaths are found not in Hell but in Purgatory, where they labor to be free of their sins. • Those in Hell are people who tried to justify their sins and are unrepentant. • Those in Hell have knowledge of the past and future, but not of the present. • This is a joke on them in Dante's mind because after the Last Judgment, time ends; those in Hell would then know nothing.
The Breakdown: • Circles 1,2,3,4 & 5* = sins of human weakness • Circles 5* 6 & 7 = involve harmful acts towards others • Circles 8 and 9 = sins of betrayal and pride (considered the worst sins of all) *5 – The sin of wrath can go either way; it is a human weakness when turned inward; it can be harmful to others if acted out. That is why it is closest to the river Styx—closer to the next, more heinous circle.
The Circles of Dante’s HellAnte-HellNeutrals • ACHERON (upper Hell) • 1. Limbo - unbaptised • 2. The Lustful • 3. The Gluttonous • 4. The Avaricious • 5. The Wrathful • STYX • 6. The Heretics • PHLEGETHON • 7. The Violent • Against Their Neighbors • Against Themselves & Their Possessions • Against God • 8. The Fraudulent (ordinary) • Flatterers • Astrologers & Magicians • Hypocrites • Thieves • Sowers of Scandal & Schism • Falsifiers / Con Artists • 9. Treachery (treacherous fraud) • CAINA • Traitors to Kin (family) • ANTENORA • Traitors to Homeland/Party • PTOLOMEA • Traitors to Guests • JUDECCA • Traitors to Benefactors • COCYTUS • LUCIFER
The Circles of Dante’s Hell For more information on Dante’s Circles of Hell and who goes where, CONTROL CLICK to follow the links, which only work when the presentation is in Slideshow Mode http://www.wolfram.demon.co.uk/rp_dante_hell.html#generally
Depiction of Lucifer tormenting the greatest betrayers of all time. Can you guess who they are?