Divine Comedy/ Inferno • Essential Questions • Is there a relationship between sin and punishment? (Divine/Just Retribution) • How does an allegory function in literature? • Is the Divine Comedy the greatest European medieval poem? • Is it possible to view good and evil in such a rigid manner—as is done by Dante? • What is the most important value in life—faith or reason? • We may add to this list…
Dante Alighieri Born 1265 in Florence, Italy Descended from a well-respected family Florence—under jurisdiction of Rome City-States unstable because of violence among political factions. Ghibillines supported the old aristocracy and favored imperial rule Guelphs—lesser nobility opposed imperial rule Pope—Guelfs gained control in 1266
Dante • Dante’s family—Guelfs • Guelfs divided—Blacks/Whites • Dante member of the Whites who wanted independence from the Pope • Dante at odds with Pope • Exiled in 1300—wife and family not exhiled • Harsh Sentence—if Dante were to return to Florence at any time, he would be burned at the stake. • Divine Comedy—Penned Revenge
Divine Comedy • Written between 1308 and 1321 • Imaginary Journey takes Dante through: • Hell-Inferno—Purpose to RECOGNIZE Sin • Purgatory-REJECT sin and awaiting redemption • Paradise-REVEIVE Salvation (The Ultimate Goal)
Allegory • A story that works on both a literal and a symbolic level. • Example: Dante is wondering through the woods in the midpoint of his life—literally. This is an allegory for Dante’s personal confusion and lack of direction during his mid-life spiritual crisis.
Epic • An epic is… • A long narrative poem that recounts the deeds of a larger than life hero and represents the beliefs of a certain culture
Vernacular • It is one of the first texts to be written in the local Tuscan dialect instead of Latin.
Comedy • Although the story does not seem “funny” to us—as it deals with such serious subject matter—it does have a happy ending. • Unfortunately, we are not reading that part!
Church vs. State • Dante wanted the church to deal only with spiritual powers and to not be involved in political decisions. • He felt the church was too rich—Christ and his disciples had been poor in their material possessions.
Vision Literature • Vision literature deals with life after death. • Common elements • One individual—almost always male • Has a guide who interprets and protects • Soul separated from body—body dead and awaiting a final resting place • The vision is a profound religious experience—purges and illuminates
Just Retribution • Based off of the Biblical idea: and eye for an eye. • Just means… • Retributions means… • The result in Dante’s hell…the punishment for sins on earth are equated to their eternal punishments in hell.
Divine Comedy--Structure • Three Divisions • Each contains 33 Cantos (Chapters) • Opening Prologue • 100—Perfect Number • Vernacular Italian • Tercets—three-line stanzas • Terza Rima—verse form with three rhymes
Divine Comedy-Structure • Why the number three? • Christian Trinity • Inferno-God’s power as seen in divine and just retribution • Purgatory-Christ the Son and the hope of salvation • Paridise-Love of Holy Spirit
Divine Comedy-Structure • Journey takes place over three days • Begins on Good Friday and ends on Easter • Three Ladies • Virgin Mary—mediates between God and Man • Saint Lucia—patron saint of Dante • Beatrice—Dante’s love who leads him into Paradise
Virgil • Guide through Inferno & Purgatory • Virgil explains and instructs • Offers clarity in contrast to Dante’s confusion • Virgil—Limbo—died 19 years before Christ’s birth • Virgil is the ultimate symbol of what human reason can achieve without faith • Dante saw reason has limited; it is only through faith that Dante can grasp the truth of Paradise
Beatrice • Dante’s first love • Misunderstanding, never spoke again • Her spirit dominates his work • Divine Comedy • Symbol of love and faith • She alone can guide him to Paradise • Journey toward truth and grace is only made possible by the woman who first gave him a glimpse of spiritual perfection
Divine Comedy • Deals with mythological, legendary, historical, political, and religious. • It is INTENSELY personal. • Encompasses Dante’s vision of God’s judgment on every significant aspect of human life.
Inferno • Dante’s journey through hell • In Dante’s hell-sins are leveled (9 levels) • As the sins get worse, so do the punishments (Just Retribution) • Dante is guided through hell by his mentor • Dante’s is a journey toward salvation
Homework • Think of some of the most common and some of the worst sins humans can commit. • Design your own hell—including 3 sins and 3 punishments (Law of Retribution) • What shape might your hell have? • Who might be your guide—why? • Remember that it is not our job as humans to judge sinners—only sinful behaviors.