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Divine Comedy, Dante > Inferno 26: Ulysses and Diomedes

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message 1: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 2766 comments 1-12 ironic apostrophe of Florence
13-18 narrative rejoined: climbing out of the seventh bolgia
19-24 Dante's reaction to the denizens of the next bolgia
25-33 Simile (1): peasant and fireflies
34-42 Simile (2): Elisha/Elijah's chariot:Dante/flames
43-45 narrative: Dante's intense reaction
46-48 Virgil: the relation between flame and sinner
49-54 Dante: but what about that double flame?
55-63 Virgil: the causes of the damnation of these two
64-69 Dante's eagerness to speak with them
70-75 Virgil's approval, but only he will speak
76-84 Virgil addresses Ulysses and Diomedes
85-89 the greater flame prepares to speak:
90-99 leaving Circe but not going home
100-111 setting forth and the places left behind
112-123 Ulysses' oration to his men and their reaction
124-129 the beginning of the last voyage
130-135 the destination, after five months: the mountain
136-142 storm and death


message 2: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 2766 comments Why does Virgil not allow Dante to speak to Ulysses? Why would the Greeks be disdainful of Dante, but not of Virgil?

I'm also curious about Ulysses' journey because it differs remarkably from the story of his return in the Odyssey. In the story he tells here, he doesn't return at all. He tells his crew, "Consider your origin: you were not made to live as brutes, but to pursue virtue and knowledge" and they sail away from home.

So he denies himself the comforts of home for "virtue and knowledge"? This seems totally unlike the Odysseus we know from Homer, whose Odyssey is completely focused on getting home. Is the Ulysses here in Canto 26 at all trustworthy in what he says, or is he up to something?


message 3: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (booksontrial) | 1469 comments Ulysses boldly went where no man has gone before and died in the attempt. The final counsel he gave his crew cost them their lives, perhaps Dante wanted to use it to justify punishing him as a "false counselor".


message 4: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1022 comments There were ancient stories that Ulysses went off on journeys again after a year or two at home with Penelope. I think Dante was adding to this tradition.


message 5: by Nemo (last edited Dec 05, 2012 07:45PM) (new)

Nemo (booksontrial) | 1469 comments In Odyssey Book XI, the dead seer Teiresias told Odysseus, "death shall come to you from the sea".Some epic poet wrote that Odysseus was unwittingly killed by Telegonus, his son with Circe, who came to Ithaca to look for him. So death did come from the sea, so to speak. But I guess Dante took it literally, and invented an ending that fit the character.

Ulysses' "longing for experience of the world and of the vices and the worth of men" is quite similar to Dante's journey here. The only difference, is that the latter curb his talent/power/genius, "that it not run where virtue does not guide; so that, if my kind star or something better has given me that gift, I not abuse it", as Dante put it.


message 6: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments A comment I thought I posted this morning seems to have disappeared. C'est la vie.

Anyway, somewhere I gained the impression Dante favored the Trojans, not the Greeks. Perhaps because Italy supposedly owed much to the Trojan Aeneas?

One of Hollander's comments ran along the lines that the first seven lines of Commedia, i.e., The Inferno, parallel Vergil's Aeneid, but Dante would not have known that Vergil paralleled Homer's Iliad. Dante may have had a lack of knowledge, thus inviting antipathy, towards the Greeks.

To the extent he did know the stories of Odysseus (Ulysses), Dante may well have considered him a wily character who used deceit treacherously rather than in loyal defense -- and willful, reasoned deceit dropped one down the circles of Hell.


message 7: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (booksontrial) | 1469 comments I read somewhere that Homer in his epic style tend to glorify his heroes, making them look better than they actually are, whereas the tragic poets make them look worse, well, more like real life characters. Odysseus is a prime example. When I first read Homer, I got the impression that Odysseus was a wise and resourceful man, but Euripides and others portrayed him as a despicable scoundrel and coward. There are plenty of evidence to support both views, depending on your choice. I suppose it's not necessarily a lack of knowledge that led Dante to judge Ulysses harshly.


message 8: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments Nemo wrote: "..I suppose it's not necessarily a lack of knowledge that led Dante to judge Ulysses harshly...."

Good insight. Thx.


message 9: by Lily (last edited Dec 05, 2012 11:25PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments http://www.bodley.ox.ac.uk/dept/scwms...

Canto 26
40 (detail) Inferno, Canto XXVI. Dante and Virgil at the foot of the slope

This is another site for an array of Commedia images.

http://www.peraldus.ch/getrefs.php?cu...


message 10: by Wendel (new)

Wendel (Wendelman) | 381 comments After the verbal fireworks in canto 25, thieves and snakes morphing in and out of each other, we are now given a real story. One we won’t forget. An alternative vision of the last days of Ulysses, symbol of the cunning and daring human mind. An imperfect hero, easy to identify with. Unlike, say, Achilles, who’s just one of those carved from stone. But does Dante feel that way too?

Our poet makes it clear that the Greek is too smart for his own good, a fault he believes himself not completely unfamiliar with. It is not, therefore, the reason why Ulysses is placed in Hell. That must be because of his sneaky ways with people, especially his trick with the Trojan horse. Still, his unlimited curiosity is considered sinful. We should not want to know too much and only ask the right kind of questions.

I never realized that following the coasts of Africa was already such a theme early in the 14th century. But why not, Marco Polo was after all Dante's contemporary. Another sinner probably from the poets conservative point of view. While it is OK to imagine Mount Purgatory and all that is on it, one should not be so bold to go to the southern hemisphere and look for oneself. As far as Dante is concerned, America would never have been discovered, and the West would never have become the West.

The theme was taken up again by Tennyson, for most of you probably another dreary school memory, but a real discovery for me. An old man sailing out once more:

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch where through
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.



message 11: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments Wendelman wrote: "...I never realized that following the coasts of Africa was already such a theme early in the 14th century...."

You sent me back to Vasco da Gama and fourth grade history -- also never considered such a long history of Atlantic - African coast seafaring before the Portuguese rounded the Cape and reached Calicut in 1498. I found the opening paragraphs here a reminder of ideas long neglected:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasco_da...


message 12: by Thomas (new)

Thomas | 2766 comments Wendelman wrote: "The theme was taken up again by Tennyson, for most of you probably another dreary school memory, but a real discovery for me. ."

Or a dreary interim read. (Not!) Those interested may wish to revisit the discussion here:

http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/2...


message 13: by Wendel (last edited Dec 06, 2012 01:15PM) (new)

Wendel (Wendelman) | 381 comments @Thomas: now I see why nobody wanted to mention Tennyson, again - this group has an impressive reading list! - but I see you still have to pick up Ovid

@ Lily: but it was more than a century after Dante's death that the Portuguese first reached the Canary Islands: http://www.win.tue.nl/~engels/discove...


message 14: by Lily (last edited Dec 06, 2012 02:14PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments Wendelman wrote: "@ Lily: but it was more than a century after Dante's death that the Portuguese first reached the Canary Islands:..."

Good stuff. So, Dante is referring to???


message 15: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments Ciardi has this note: "According to Dante's geography, the Northern Hemisphere is land and the Southern is all water except for the Mountain of Purgatory which rises above the surface at a point directly opposite Jerusalem."


message 16: by Wendel (new)

Wendel (Wendelman) | 381 comments I first made an association with Jules Verne’s moon voyage - imagination pre dating reality by a century. But as I found no other indication of Italians dreaming to ‘go west’ in the 13th or 14th century, I'm afraid Ulysses endeavour is just what it seems: an illustration of the motto Nec Plus Ultra (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plus_Ult...).


message 17: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2350 comments Laurel here, from my mother's bedside at a skilled nursing facility. I think this is a fascinating canto. I hope Everyman finds his way to this discussion. Of course, I thought of Tennyson's "Ulysses" right away. I think Dante is condemning Ulysses for the same reason I keep wanting to condemn Tennyson's U--after all that traveling and womanizing, he goes off and leaves his long suffering wife and family again, probably with no return. The man is a cad!


message 18: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2350 comments Thomas wrote: "Why does Virgil not allow Dante to speak to Ulysses? Why would the Greeks be disdainful of Dante, but not of Virgil?

I'm also curious about Ulysses' journey because it differs remarkably from the..."


I don't think it's disdain, Thomas. Virgil knows that Dante does not know Greek and thus needs a translator.


message 19: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2350 comments If any of you have Pinsky's translation, c. 1994, be sure to read John Freccero's note on this canto. Here's the beginning:

"All the characters who speak in the Inferno are near contemporaries of the poet except for Ulysses, who will be mentioned several times more in the course of the Commedia. The ideals Ulysses expresses are reminiscent of those espoused by an equally self-confident Dante in...the Convivio. The voyage of Ulysses was taken in antiquity as an allegory for the education of the soul, whose return home was taken as a sign of its deliverance. Although he did not know Homer's text, Dante certainly knew of its happy ending. By changing it, he suggests that no one could survive such a journey on one's own.

"Geryon is the emblem of the pilgrim's journey, and Ulysses' voyage is its counterpart. The difference between the two voyages is that Ulysses undertakes his 'insane flight' alone, while Virgil guides the pilgrim on the shoulders of the monster. This is much like the opposition in Canto I between the pilgrim's abortive attempt to climb the mountain on his own and the longer, guided journey on which Virgil leads him. It might be said that the successful journey of the pilgrim begins after he survives the metaphoric drowning (Canto I, 18-21) to which Ulysses fell victim. What separates their fate is the will of God (XXVI, 154).”


message 20: by Thomas (last edited Dec 09, 2012 03:42PM) (new)

Thomas | 2766 comments I was just quoting Singleton's translation. Virgil says, "...but do you restrain your tongue: leave speech to me, for I have understood what you wish -- and perhaps, since they were Greeks, they would be disdainful of your words."


message 21: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2350 comments Thomas wrote: "I was just quoting Singleton's translation. Virgil says, "...but do you restrain your tongue: leave speech to me, for I have understood what you wish -- and perhaps, since they were Greeks, they wo..."

Oh, right, Thomas! ("Can't the guy even speak Greek?")


message 22: by Ben (new)

Ben (Ben77) | 13 comments As I heard Ulysses describe how he conned his crew into joining him on that final ill-fated voyage, he reminded me very much of Captain Ahab. I wonder if Melville was inspired by Dante's depiction of Ulysses.


message 23: by Lily (last edited Dec 10, 2012 10:38AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments Ben wrote: "...I wonder if Melville was inspired by Dante's depiction of Ulysses. I wonder if Melville was inspired by Dante's depiction ..."

Fascinating possibility.

I promised elsewhere to post a commentary on Ivo David's depiction of Ulysses in this Canto (an illustration that unfortunately I can't find), so here goes:

"The Seductors: These are struck by the whips of horned devils. Here Ulysses is the main character; he tried to reach the mountain of Purgatory. Neptune, king of the oceans, became jealous because Ulysses had violated the human limits and his realm, never yet traversed (Inferno XXVI, 16-48)

"David's figuration is powerful and expressive. The two flames are contained in the middle [of?] the head of Dante who speaks with Ulysses. The two flames are red and have surrealistic eyes. The signs (posters) STOP CRIME indicate to respect the limits of humanity. The columns of Hercules, situated between Morocco and Gibraltar, indicated the limits imposed to man by the divinity; he who ventures into the ocean would have destroyed Jupiter and profaned the temple of Neptune, God of the sea and oceans. To the right is a motorcycle that represents..." (remainder not reproduced).

One gets a sense of Dante's identification with the quest of Ulysses to see and to experience all.

One wonders what Dante would have written of Oppenheimer and others associated with the Manhattan Project and developments thereafter. Or of modern citizens as they vote their opinions, consciously or unconsciously.

For some of Ivo David's work on (other Cantos of) the Commedia, see here: http://www.ivodavidfineart.com/Divine...

The descriptive PDF can be reached by a link near the top the screen.


message 24: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6304 comments Nemo wrote: "In Odyssey Book XI, the dead seer Teiresias told Odysseus, "death shall come to you from the sea".Some epic poet wrote that Odysseus was unwittingly killed by Telegonus, his son with Circe, who cam..."

A nice comment. Dante apparently invented this episode of Dante sailing through the Pillars and out into the unknown ocean, perhaps as you note creating a story to fulfill the prophecy of Tiresias.

But it really doesn't become clear to me why Ulysses is in this circle. Is it because of the deception of the Trojan Horse? Is it because of his deception in trying to wangle his way out of going to Troy? Is it because he misled the crew he took with him on his final voyage? I'm not at all clear what it was that made Dante put Ulysses here.

On another note, is it fairly safe to assume that Tennyson was familiar with this Dantean legend when he wrote his magnificent poem Ulysses? Or did he independently come up with the idea of Odysseus seeking a final voyage of adventure and discovery? Certainly I think that Tennyson would never have consigned Ulysses to a Christian Hell!


message 25: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6304 comments Lily wrote: "I promised elsewhere to post a commentary on Ivo David's depiction of Ulysses in this Canto (an illustration that unfortunately I can't find), so here goes:

"The Seductors: These are struck by the whips of horned devils. Here Ulysses is the main character; he tried to reach the mountain of Purgatory. Neptune, king of the oceans, became jealous because Ulysses had violated the human limits and his realm, never yet traversed (Inferno XXVI, 16-48)"


But how could he have been trying to reach the mountain of Purgatory if Christianity hadn't been developed in his day and there was no such thing as Purgatory? (I believe that Purgatory is a purely Christian concept, and didn't exist in Judaism, right?) Of course the mountain was there, since presumably God created it at the same time as he created Hell, long before he created mankind, but it was never recognized as Purgatory in Ulysses's day, was it? It seems grossly unfair to condemn him for trying to discover something that didn't have any meaningful existence in his lifetime.

I'm a bit defensive here because I admire Odysseus/Ulysses and am annoyed at Dante for condemning him to Hell. He should at least be in Limbo with Virgil, shouldn't he?


message 26: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2350 comments Everyman wrote: "But it really doesn't become clear to me why Ulysses is in this circle. Is it because of the deception of the Trojan Horse? Is it because of his deception in trying to wangle his way out of going to Troy? Is it because he misled the crew he took with him on his final voyage? I'm not at all clear what it was that made Dante put Ulysses here."

All of the above, I would say.

And yes, Tennyson and all his circle would have known Dante well.


message 27: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2350 comments Everyman wrote: "But it really doesn't become clear to me why Ulysses is in this circle. Is it because of the deception of the Trojan Horse? Is it because of his deception in trying to wangle his way out of going to Troy? Is it because he misled the crew he took with him on his final voyage? I'm not at all clear what it was that made Dante put Ulysses here."

All of the above, I would say.

And yes, Tennyson and all his circle would have known Dante well.


message 28: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Hicks (goodreadscomlaurele) | 2350 comments Everyman wrote: "But it really doesn't become clear to me why Ulysses is in this circle. Is it because of the deception of the Trojan Horse? Is it because of his deception in trying to wangle his way out of going to Troy? Is it because he misled the crew he took with him on his final voyage? I'm not at all clear what it was that made Dante put Ulysses here."

All of the above, I would say.

And yes, Tennyson and all his circle would have known Dante well.


message 29: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (booksontrial) | 1469 comments Everyman wrote: "I'm a bit defensive here because I admire Odysseus/Ulysses and am annoyed at Dante for condemning him to Hell. He should at least be in Limbo with Virgil, shouldn't he? ..."

I suspect the Trojans would argue that Ulysses was a mass murderer and war criminal and deserved being in Hell. But then, the same could be said of Julius Caesar, who also used deceptive tactics in his military campaigns, but was assigned to Limbo instead.


message 30: by Lily (last edited Dec 11, 2012 10:12PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments Before you get too harsh about Dante's treatment of Ulysses, let me say that the sense I get from the critics and the text is that at certain levels Dante identified heavily with Ulysses. Dante, too, wanted to travel where it was (normally) forbidden by God (the gods?). As has been commented upon from several directions, it is hard to determine for this ring exactly what is the crime being punished -- the trickery of the Trojan horse? Transcending normal human boundaries? Entering areas restricted to the gods? This seems to me to be a struggle about the limits, if any, of being human versus what may be beyond his reach.


message 31: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1022 comments Dante certainly seems to regard the strategem of the Trojan Horse as perfidy, rather than as a legitimate ruse of war. In a later canto we'll see another character suffer for his part in it. But I think Ulysses is here in flames for his irrepressible lying character--it seems to me that every time he meets someone in the Odyssey he starts out with an extended lie about himself. Not all of them amount to evil counseling, perhaps, but I guess enough do to earn him a place in this bolgia. This placement certainly shows that Dante has the courage to make unpopular judgments.

Ulysses didn't sail in search of Mt. Purgatory, but he tried to get to it when when he sighted it, and that boundary-crossing was the occasion for his end.


message 32: by Lily (last edited Dec 12, 2012 09:40AM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments Everyman wrote: "But how could he have been trying to reach the mountain of Purgatory if Christianity hadn't been developed in his day and there was no such thing as Purgatory? ..."

My sense here is that the writer (see msg 23) confounded Dante's geography of the Southern Hemisphere with Ulysses attempt to transgress the boundaries supposedly set by Neptune.

The analogies I make are when we humans decided to develop nuclear weapons -- and when we try to restrict their proliferation. What parent does not know the inherent temptation of providing a child with "No, no. You mustn't do that"? As our craft venture further and further into space.


message 33: by Nemo (last edited Dec 12, 2012 12:25PM) (new)

Nemo (booksontrial) | 1469 comments Roger wrote: "Dante certainly seems to regard the strategem of the Trojan Horse as perfidy, rather than as a legitimate ruse of war. ..."

Odysseus used the stratagem against his (the Greeks') enemies in war. How is it perfidy? Come to think of it, shouldn't Helen be here? Some story has it that she knew of the ruse but didn't alarm the Trojans. Now that is perfidy.


message 34: by Athens (new)

Athens | 28 comments What I find great about reading this string of comments (for all cantos) is simply this:

Where before I was aware the DC was a great work, now I am aware of how pivotal it is to the Western lit that followed.

Thank you!


message 35: by Roger (last edited Dec 13, 2012 10:18AM) (new)

Roger Burk | 1022 comments Nemo wrote: "Roger wrote: "Dante certainly seems to regard the strategem of the Trojan Horse as perfidy, rather than as a legitimate ruse of war. ..."

Odysseus used the stratagem against his (the Greeks') enem..."


I think maybe Dante had medieval chivalric ideas of war--settle it all in clean wager of battle, without subterfuge. Nowadays the Law of Armed Conflict only prohibits a few things of this type: feigning surrender; misusing a flag of truce or Geneva cross.


message 36: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (booksontrial) | 1469 comments Roger wrote: "Nemo wrote: "Roger wrote: "Dante certainly seems to regard the strategem of the Trojan Horse as perfidy, rather than as a legitimate ruse of war. ..."

Odysseus used the stratagem against his (the ..."


It may have something to do with the Church's teaching of just war, which I'm not entirely familiar with, but I'd be surprised if it prohibits the use of deceptive tactics.

The whole concept of regulating wars with laws seems rather ludicrous (for lack of a better word) to me. If a country breaks the law of war, what can we do about it? Wage another war? Thousands of lives are lost, and the law only cares about "misusing a flag of truce"?


message 37: by Lily (last edited Dec 13, 2012 12:24PM) (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments Nemo wrote: "...The whole concept of regulating wars with laws seems rather ludicrous (for lack of a better word)..."

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laws_of_war -- this site gives some rudimentary concepts of the "rules of war", including their long human history and contemporary stratagems. Many of which I have been aware have dealt with the treatment of prisoners.


message 38: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1022 comments Nemo wrote: "Roger wrote: "Nemo wrote: "Roger wrote: "Dante certainly seems to regard the strategem of the Trojan Horse as perfidy, rather than as a legitimate ruse of war. ..."

Odysseus used the stratagem aga..."


Soldiers can be and are put on trial for violating the laws of war, in both national and international courts. Another consequence of perfidy is reprisal, though that itself would be technically illegal. Finally, sometimes in war you have a choice about whether or not to give the enemy an opportunity to surrender. You're less likely to give that opportunity to an enemy who in the past has been perfidious.


message 39: by Athens (last edited Dec 13, 2012 03:34PM) (new)

Athens | 28 comments It seems like this is applying today's rules of engagement to centuries ago.


message 40: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments Paul wrote: "It seems like this is applying today's rules of engagement to centuries ago."

Note Roger's comment in Msg 35? Do you think Dante had medieval chivalric ideas of war?

I don't know much about what those might have been, but they at least might not have been anachronistic?


message 41: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (booksontrial) | 1469 comments Roger wrote: "Soldiers can be and are put on trial for violating the laws of war, in both national and international courts...."

When they disobey the laws of their own country, or the commands of their superiors. Odysseus' stratagem was adopted by the entire Greek army, so he (and Diomedes) shouldn't shoulder the blame alone. But it's impossible to put countries on trial that don't submit to international laws.

I think it is commonly accepted that perfidy and deceptive tactics of war are two different things (though Plato and Kant would argue otherwise). Your friends have a reasonable expectation of your faithfulness, but enemies in war have no such expectation. If you expect your enemy to be reasonable and faithful, why then are you trying to kill him? This is why laws of wars are self-contradictory, imo.


message 42: by Athens (new)

Athens | 28 comments Lily wrote: "Paul wrote: "It seems like this is applying today's rules of engagement to centuries ago."

Note Roger's comment in Msg 35? Do you think Dante had medieval chivalric ideas of war?

I don't know ..."


Hi there Lily. Thanks for pointing that out. I had missed it.


message 43: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1022 comments Nemo wrote: "Roger wrote: "Soldiers can be and are put on trial for violating the laws of war, in both national and international courts...."

When they disobey the laws of their own country, or the commands of..."


If soldiers fall into the hands of other powers (including the UN), they can be and are tried for violating internationally accepted laws of war, regardless of the law of their own country.


message 44: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (booksontrial) | 1469 comments I maybe mistaken, but the US does not accept any international tribunal that puts US soldiers on trial if they haven't broken the laws of their own country, does it? If they were obeying the command of their superiors, should not their superiors be tried instead?


message 45: by Lily (new)

Lily (Joy1) | 3412 comments Athens wrote: "...I had missed it...."

Paul/Athens -- I sorta guessed that, given the tenor of your comment. It is easy to do when we get a string of comments, some of them taking on side topics. Rather like being in a conversation circle at a party.

For me, what is interesting, but not surprising, here is that even for practicing evil, humans create rules -- and long have done so.


message 46: by Roger (new)

Roger Burk | 1022 comments Nemo wrote: "I maybe mistaken, but the US does not accept any international tribunal that puts US soldiers on trial if they haven't broken the laws of their own country, does it? If they were obeying the comman..."

The Nuremberg trials after WWII established the precedent that "I was only following orders" is not a defense. In the U.S. services, members are explicitly required to disobey illegal orders, e.g. orders that violate the laws of war.


message 47: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6304 comments Nemo wrote: "Odysseus used the stratagem against his (the Greeks') enemies in war. How is it perfidy? Come to think of it, shouldn't Helen be here? Some story has it that she knew of the ruse but didn't alarm the Trojans. Now that is perfidy.
"


That raises an interesting point. There are almost no women in Hell. At least, if there are, Dante doesn't identify them for us. Why?

One reason may be that most of the men in Hell are there because of their church or political or military acts, and women very few women had the positions or ability to commit any of those acts.

But doesn't that beg the question somewhat? Why are these the only things that get you into Hell? Aren't there many women who were traitors to their families, or who supported men who were traitors to their countries? Hadn't there been at least some Italian women who were thieves, or forgers, or who committed other sins which should have gotten them into Hell? Helen is certainly one who seems to belong here. But why haven't a lot of others shown up also??


message 48: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 6304 comments Nemo wrote: "I think it is commonly accepted that perfidy and deceptive tactics of war are two different things (though Plato and Kant would argue otherwise)."

As would, of course, Machiavelli. And Sun Tzu. And ....


message 49: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (booksontrial) | 1469 comments Roger wrote: "The Nuremberg trials after WWII established the precedent that "I was only following orders" is not a defense. ..."

Arguments can be and have been made that it's not a fair trial since only the victors were judges. But, more to the point, if "following orders" is not a defense, there would have been many more on trial, not just prominent members of the Third Reich, who were involved in "giving orders".


message 50: by Nemo (new)

Nemo (booksontrial) | 1469 comments Everyman wrote: "Nemo wrote: "I think it is commonly accepted that perfidy and deceptive tactics of war are two different things (though Plato and Kant would argue otherwise)."

As would, of course, Machiavelli. A..."


Sun Tzu advocates the use of deceptive tactics in his book, The Art of War. They speak to the military brilliance and intelligence of the general, but nothing whatsoever about his character as a person.


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