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What We Can Learn From Dante’s Divine Comedy

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In the poem The Divine Comedy, comprises sections representing the three tiers of the Christian afterlife: heaven (paradise), purgatory, and hell. That is Christian’s vision of humankind temporal and eternal destiny. Dante Alighieri work Inferno is a realistic walk into the depths of hell and invokes a lot of feelings, images and contemplation. The work of Dante constructs a beautiful full sensory representation of hell and the souls that he encounters along his journey. The way Dante’s perspective on the appropriate punishments for those who are destined to hell for all eternity is describes as different levels of hell. Canto gives an important issue in which Dante asks the questions of why there is a separation between the different levels of hell. During Dante’s Journey to hell he goes through the nine circles called: limbo, lust, gluttony, greed, anger, heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. Each circle is a different punishment that resembles each of the sins committed. In order to move to a higher level, one must achieve the understanding of the process; in this case, Dante needs to go to another place to achieve getting into paradise. It is clear that Dante’s poems is about living life of sin. He has strayed from the right path. Dante represents the minority of the society, the politicians, and the lovers. The people are assembled and punished. The sins in Dante’s Hell correspond with the sins found in Catholicism and, one can see where every person has failed in their spiritual journey. Dante’s journey through Hell is representing how man can look at the consequences of his and hopefully reject them in order to get closer to God.

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Dante Alighieri became famous for writing the poem Divine Comedy. Dante Alighieri was born in 1265, he was raised with family from a history of involvement in the complex Florentine political scene, and after, this would become one feature in his Inferno years later. Soon after Dante was born his mother died. There was an arrangement that Dante was going to marry beautiful women named Gemma Donati, she was the daughter of a friend of his family. After, Dante and Gemma got married because of the arrangement the family had. Their was a problem with Dante, Dante was actually in loved with another woman called Beatrice Portinari. Beatriz was a big influence on Dante and who would have an impact on the poem Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante and Beatrice met at an early age when he was about nine years old, and that is when he fell in love for the first time. Beatrice suddenly and unexpectedly died around the 1290’s, and after her death, Dante decided to publish Vita Nuova (The New Life) after 5 years of her unexpected death. Then, Dante decides to study of philosophy and machinations of Florentine political scenes. Around 1302, Dante was exiled for life by the leaders of the Black Guelphs and also, a person named Corsco Donati, who a was a distant relative of Dante’s wife and also the political faction and who had all the power during that time and who were tied with Pope Boniface VIII. The pope is considered as countless with other figures from the Florentine politics, and finds a place in the hell, which Dante creates in Inferno. Dante had to leave Florentine and after leaving, a big turned off a new beginning of his productive artistic period would start. Dante became a landmark in the Italian Literature and has been considered one of the greatest and important works of all the medieval European literature. Dante also wrote De Monarchia, based on Henry VII, in three different books; which he claimed that the authority of the emperor is not dependent on the pole but descends directly from God. However, Henry VII’s popularity faded quickly, because his enemies had enough strength, to threaten him and to assassinate him to get the throne. Dante’s enemies were members of the Florentine government, then Dante wrote a diatribe against them but then he was banned from the city. Therefore, he started his journey to begin writing his modern and most famous work, The Divine Comedy.

In Inferno, Canto XIII, both, Dante and Virgil enter into a pathless wood. “It is a dismal wood of strange with black leaves, misshapen branches, and poisonous branches barren of fruit”. Virgil explains that it is the second round of the seventh circle, where Dante has seen things that causes him to doubt Virgil’s words. In Canto XIII, Dante mentions, “From every side I heard the sounds of cries, but I could not see any source for them, so that, in my bewilderment. I stopped.” Dante thinks that Virgil knows Dante’s thoughts about the spirits making such an outcries, which are hiding among the trees. Virgil then tells Dante to break off any branch, and he will see that he is wrong in his thought. Dante mentions, “I let the branch fall, and I stood like one who is afraid.” Dante then pulls a small branch off from a large thorn tree, the tree then starts crying out in pain. Blood begins to fall down its bark. The souls where once men in the ring, there were those who have been violent against themselves and therefore, his possessions have been transformed into trees. If Dante would have believed what Virgil had once written, not many of that would have happened. Virgil tells the spirit to tell his story so Dante can hear and therefore, he can tell everyone on earth, once returning. As Dante hears, the spirits story, he then asks how the souls came to be here. The tree-soul explains that, “when Minos first cast souls here, they take the root and grow as saplings. They then are wounded and pecked by Harpies, which are foul creatures that are half woman, half bird.” When the tree’s-soul branch is broken, it causes a lot of pain as dismemberment. “All the spirits will be called to the Last Judgment and will reclaim the mortal bodies forsaken by them.” Instead, the returned bodies will be hung on the soul-trees branches, forcing each soul to see and feel constantly the human that it was rejected in life.

Dante’s, three-part poem, the Divine Comedy, which “Inferno” is the initial part, which has remained an influential piece of literature in discovering the origins of evil. In the Divine Comedy, in the first portion of the poem, “Inferno,” has been categorized and to understand the different forms of human evil. In “Inferno,” it does not simply represent an eternal torture chamber, in reality represents a meditation on evil. Dante approaches to ask the question of evil from the view point of a Christian, but the question is relevant no matter what religion you practice. You need to pay attention to the all your surroundings in the world that evolve around you and start wondering about the evil behaviors, both greater and minor. Next, is the, “Purgatorio,” which explores the human nature, and the different ways we can surpass our fallen state, and therefore, overcome our human weaknesses that we have carrying among us. The final portion is, “Paradiso,” which is about good and heaven. It is framed as a literal journey through the Christian afterlife. “Paradiso” deals with transcendence, redemption, and virtue. However, the “Inferno” has the greatest appeal in the contemporary world. I think that cultural and historical events in the past have made it easier for all of us to conceive of hell than it is to conceive of paradise because of all the sins that we carry. Therefore, one of the lessons in the poem stimulates the need to stand up to injustice and the abuse of power. In present times, in Dante’s view, the villain was the pope and who was the head of the Catholic Church. There is a whole series of corrupt popes in hell that have done many bad decisions. For the popes as for everyone else in hell, each kind of sin is punished in a different way. Dante is inventive in making the punishment fit the crime. Corruption in the churches, in our supposed spiritual leaders, is a subject not without contemporary relevance. The poem has many human emotions throughout the different stages in which we can all recognize and relate too. For example,a few of those emotions involve; love, hate, anger, fear, joy, anxiety and despair. This poem makes us analyze and think about all the powerful feelings and the place in human life and also to reflect on each of them; not only in relation to our prior experiences but also to the wider scheme of things.

Works Cited

  • Alighieri, Dante 1265-1321. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri; Inferno, Purgatory, Paradise. New York: The Union Library Association, 1935.
  • Blauvelt, Christian, BBC, Dante and The Divine Comedy: He Took Us On A Tour of Hell, 5 June 2018.
10 Jun 2021

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