A Few Important Definitions… allegory- an expression, by means of symbolic fictional characters and actions, of truths about human conduct and experience terzarima- an Italian form of iambic poetry having sets of three lines, the middle line of each set rhyming with the first and last of the succeeding: ababcbcdc; invented by Dante vernacular- the native speech or language of a place; The Divine Comedy was composed in Italian as opposed to the more “learned” and “literary” Latin.
Sacred Number Three 3 Cantica (parts to the Commedia) 33 Cantos/Cantica = 99 Cantos 99 + Introduction = 100 100 = 10^2 10 = 9^2 + 1 Trinity + Unity of God TerzaRima…
The Purpose of The Divine Comedy “It is an attempt to remove those living in this life from the state of misery and lead them to the state of felicity.”
The Divine Comedy’sMeaning Moreover, Dante describes his work as polysemous, specifying the principal levels of meaning as both literal and allegorical. In a literal sense, the subject of the poem, according to Dante, is "the state of souls after death." In allegorical terms, the poem is about humankind who by exercising free will will bring "rewarding or punishing justice" upon themselves.
Why comedy? Vernacular vs. Exalted Language Everyman can experience grace of God
Dante’s Hell and Contrapasso • “Judge not, that you be not judged.For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.” -Matthew 7: 1-2 • “counter-suffering” • symbolic retribution: punishment fits the crime • Cosmic irony