Jesse Peters
Jesse Peters asked:

Is this book supposed to lead us on a better path to God so we don't end up in Hell?

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Edward Not really.

I mean, yes, obviously the Comedy as a whole is religious in character. It certainly engages with themes of sin, penance, salvation and redemption. But that's not all it is, and a lot of the stuff that shows up in it is arguably at odds with the advice Dante the Pilgrim gives his readers. So it's "about" religion and how to live a righteous life, but that's not all it is about.

The book is supremely political, although all the political figures in it are now historical figures, and some of them are really obscure if you don't already know a lot about late 13th/early 14th century Italian history. Many of the characters in Hell are people Dante personally disliked, or political opponents of his (Dante was a career politician in Florence, and when things went badly for his political party, he was exiled from the city and all his property was seized).

Others are people he didn't have anything against, but they were famous at the time for assorted sins--consider them the equivalent of Kim Kardashian and her sex tape. Is it a book about medieval Italian politics and pop culture? Sort of, but again, that's not all it is.

And then there's the whole thing with Beatrice, who was this woman that Dante had a crush on in real life before she died of the pox. Beatrice-the-character is an idealization of the real woman, Bice Donati, who never had any interest in him in real life. But in the poem, she loves him enough to dispatch a guide to take him through hell and into heaven. There's all sorts of emotional baggage at work there, some of it kinda creepy, some of it kinda sad. The Comedy is "about" this relationship, too

And there's Virgil, who was a real poet that Dante considered the beginning of the same literary tradition that he was writing in. Picking this guy to be Dante's guide through Hell and Purgatory makes it a story about being an author, and also a story about literary influence.

Saying that the book is supposed to instruct the reader about how to lead a righteous life is . . . true, but also missing the point. Really great literature usually is about everything and nothing.

I mean, really, Dante tells you what it's about in the first lines.

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
che la diritta via era smaritta.

In the middle of the road of our life, I came back to myself in a dark forest, where the straight way was lost.

In the story, this is literally true--he starts out lost in a forest, literally and also figuratively. And then the rest of the book is about how he got out of the woods, again literally and also figuratively.
Andre LeMagne The Divine Comedy (which is not just the Inferno -- read all three parts!) is a masterwork of psychology. Each little vignette reveals something important about the human mind. The punishments in hell show people simply experiencing the consequences of their childish/neurotic/sinful behavior. There is poetic justice in each punishment. The Purgatorio shows people struggling to grow up and stop being infantile sinners. And the Paradisio -- is about science!
Megan Absolutely! Dante's worldview is profoundly Christian (he was a medieval European writer after all...the culture back then was steeped in religion to a degree we modern people find hard to imagine or understand). In addition to being an adventure journey through a physical and vividly imagined afterlife, the Comedy is a stunning allegory of a Christian's search for God. The first book, Hell, is a realization of sin in all its ugliness, which is essential for salvation. The second book, Purgatory, is all about repentance and penance and the formation of new virtuous habits in place of old sins. And the third book, Heaven, is a contemplation on the beauty, truth, and goodness that is God Himself.
Tony Iantosca A little, yeah.
Caedin The dude was a pagan. It's not a bible yo.
Kei Bevido I've read different various translations of Dante's Divine Comedy - I don't find anything about it, or any part of it (Inferno, etc), that literally has to do with Religion per se ... only that "Hell" and "God" may be a way to personify entities/words/beliefs held by those who read this . The reason I keep reading is it, is because I want to know if Dante sees the irony of a "just god"- whether he believes in either God or uses the name to personify Fate, Destiny or karma -I'm not sure - I'm finding it more satirical each time I read it ..after all- look at the title. I don't feel he used "Comedy" because he wanted this to make you laugh.
** I just found a better version of what I'm trying to say - SEE EDWARD RICHMOND's review from 2015.
Hadeer Negm not really , the main target here is political . he was against a lot of ideas in religion.
some of the characters in hell are supposed to be in paradise and that was obvious because his own guide "virigil " is from the inhabitants of hell .
another obvious thing was his admiration which appears in the description of the one who challenge god .
he was actually laughing at the justice of god & say that it's not justice .
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