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The Divine Comedy
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message 1: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 92 comments Mod
Hi everyone!

I have to admit, I'm having a hard time putting this book down. What I really wanted to originally do was take it slow and read one Canto per day. But it's so interesting that I'm reading more than that! I MIGHT push the deadline up a bit...but I'm going to wait and see how things go. The book I borrowed from the library has really interesting artwork to go with each Canto. That has helped me visually see an interpretation of what Dante is describing. A friend told me that the type of translation you get is important...does anyone know anything about that? I have to admit too that I have trouble understanding some of what Dante is saying, especially when it comes to politics at the time.


message 2: by Natalie (new)

Natalie | 1 comments I read the John Ciardi translation a few years ago and remember liking it a lot. It explained many things in the foot notes. It is available on inter-library loan in Illinois.


message 3: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 92 comments Mod
Natalie wrote: "I read the John Ciardi translation a few years ago and remember liking it a lot. It explained many things in the foot notes. It is available on inter-library loan in Illinois."

Thanks Natalie! That's really helpful...I'll borrow that one too and compare with what I have now.


Galicius I am using a John D. Sinclair translation in prose. I have heard a professor tell his class that it does not make a great deal of difference what translation they are using. He was Italian and knew the original text. A native Italian friend of mine who took the course reading DC in original told me Dante’s medieval language was very difficult for her. My text has extensive footnotes and commentaries after each canto. It is more than I can get involved in but will be happy to provide any background information that may be important in understanding the text.

Canto I The dark woods; the three beasts; Virgil

Dante is lost and Virgil points the way to justice and vision of God but he must go down through hell, and purgatory--not up, the way up is down--to reach the beatific vision. Dante is in the middle of life (35) and lost in a dark wood which represents possibly state of sin, maybe the civil strife in Florence. Dante got involved in politics and was forced into exile from Florence. He meets three beasts, a leopard, a lion, and wolf. They may represent Florence, Rome, and papacy or the three forces of evil in the world: lust, pride, greed or wrath. The scene is not clear, the landscape dark. DC is a story of exile. Dante died in Ravenna.


message 5: by Ashley (last edited Jul 25, 2016 05:25AM) (new)

Ashley | 92 comments Mod
Hi Everyone! I apologize for my absence the past week...I am back! How is everyone doing with Dante?

I am almost done with Inferno. A few things I wanted to comment on: I am very interested in Dante's interpretation of the hierarchy of sins. I have not made it to the last circle of hell yet, but so far, it seems that he views lying/deception as the worst of sins. Does this match with the teaching of the Catholic Church? I will have to look in the Catechism, but I have always understood pride to be the worst because it is the root of all the other sins.

I also wanted to share this link in case you haven't seen it. Bishop Robert Barron comments on Dante...it looks very interesting!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkjxc...


message 6: by Galicius (last edited Jul 26, 2016 09:18AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Galicius Ashley wrote: "Hi Everyone! I apologize for my absence the past week...I am back! How is everyone doing with Dante?

I am almost done with Inferno. A few things I wanted to comment on: I am very interested in Dan..."


Satan comes to mind first when it comes to lying and deception and that is probably why Dante places him at the bottom of hell. He lied to Eve in the garden. Later on in Purgatorio he will give wrong directions to Dante and Virgil will remind Dante he forgets that Satan is the prince of liars. Judas betrayed Jesus.

Stephen Hawking, in his “Brief History of Time” includes brief outlines about Einstein, Galileo, Newton and he stands with them, as if, which reminded me of Dante in Canto IV of “Inferno”. Dante comes to a “limbo” (edge), which is a garden where he meets the great “heathen” poets Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan. They welcome him and Dante thinks he is one of them. Great poetry is universal and time-proof for at least a couple of millennia. Hawking is a scientist and Dante a poet. Will his theories stand the test of such, as we look these poets? Or is he more than a scientist? Will our outlook on poetry and science change? I hear that Hawking did his best work thirty years ago and is no longer highly regarded by other scientists. Dante is still with us and on solid ground after seven centuries.


message 7: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 92 comments Mod
As I am reading, I keep wondering: what was Dante exiled for?


Galicius Ashley wrote: "As I am reading, I keep wondering: what was Dante exiled for?"

Ashley, Dante was strongly involved in Florence politics. There were two parties literally fighting each other, named oddly enough “Whites” and “Blacks”. Dante was with the Whites. The Blacks supported the pope of the times, Boniface VIII, while the Whites wanted freedom from Rome. The Whites were in power for a short time and Dante even held the highest post in Florence but then the Blacks seized the government. Dante was accused of corruption and ordered to pay a large fine. He did not agree, refused to pay the fine, and went on a perpetual exile. If he returned to Florence he could have been burned at stake. The council of Florence rescinded his sentence in 2008!

Pope Nicholas III, who is already in Dante’s “Inferno” advises Dante that he expects Boniface VIII to be coming there also for simony.


message 9: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 92 comments Mod
I am almost done with Inferno! I had to take a short hiatus on reading the past week for family reasons but now I'm back on the wagon! My husband is reading it too and made a good point: does Dante ever actually use the word "hell" in Inferno? Or perhaps did we just miss it?


Galicius Ashley wrote: "I am almost done with Inferno! I had to take a short hiatus on reading the past week for family reasons but now I'm back on the wagon! My husband is reading it too and made a good point: does Dante..."

Dante uses the word “inferno” (“hell” in Italian) more than a dozen times in the “Inferno” part of Divine Comedy. I find it in Cantos I, III, VI, VIII, all the way to the last Canto of “Inferno”. He will refer to it in the next part “Purgatorio” also.

A question for you: Why do you think Dante placed Ulysses in hell? He is in Canto XXVI. I was surprised to find this hero of the Odyssey in hell.


message 11: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 92 comments Mod
Galicius wrote: "Ashley wrote: "I am almost done with Inferno! I had to take a short hiatus on reading the past week for family reasons but now I'm back on the wagon! My husband is reading it too and made a good po..."

I found this interesting explanation as to why Dante placed Ulysses in hell, and particularly in the eight circle:

"Dante's placement is due to the fact he spends a great deal of time lashing out at antiquity; he reveres Rome highly as you can see in his text, and as the person that nearly wipes out Aeneas (a founder of Rome), Ulysses is here for his trickery. It is a complete and total spiritual defeat for the maker of the Trojan Horse"

It's also interesting because the day after I asked the question about the word "hell" never being said, I heard on Catholic Answers that "hell" is an English word, so it makes sense that they instead used Italian "inferno". Shows how much I know about language! :-)

I am finished with hell and now in Purgatory! I found it interesting that the devil had three heads...I read that this is a perversion of the Trinity, since evil is really a skewed version of what is good. How's everyone else doing on Dante?


message 12: by Galicius (last edited Aug 15, 2016 07:57AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Galicius Ashley wrote: "Galicius wrote: "Ashley wrote: "I am almost done with Inferno! I had to take a short hiatus on reading the past week for family reasons but now I'm back on the wagon! My husband is reading it too a..."

I agree with your observations on Ulysses. Dante condemns him as an as an evil counselor. He advised Achilles to join them knowing of a prophecy by Cassandra that he would die, devised the wooden horse, and stole the Palladium of Troy which led to its downfall. I think that Dante’s sympathy was with Troy. He puts him in the same circle as sprits of five citizens of Florence as thieves. The five spirits are nobles of Florence that Dante knew.

Longfellow who was the first American to translate Dante writes that the author of DC knew the story of Ulysses only from Aeneid and did not read Homer’s “Iliad” for certain. Ulysses is for Dante the master rhetorician.

It seems from you humorous comment about “hell” and “inferno” that your translation by John Ciardi uses the word “inferno” throughout to refer to hell. That can very well be the case.


message 13: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 92 comments Mod
How's everyone doing on Dante? I'm not as far along as I wanted to be but I'm going to try really hard to get caught up so I can meet the deadline!

I have to admit that being in Purgatory is so much nicer to read...although Inferno was very interesting and captivating to me, it was exhausting (and sad!) reading about the torments of hell! So I'm glad to be in a nicer place now!

I found it interesting how Dante bows to the angels becuase they are so much more holy than he...it reminds me of the last chapter of Revelation (Rev 22: 8-9) when John bows to an angel, but is instructed to instead worship God. I'm really excited to see what's in store for Dante and especially how he depicts heaven!


message 14: by Ashley (new)

Ashley | 92 comments Mod
Wow...just got through Canto 6 in Purgatorio. It was very hard for me to follow what he was talking about. I had to look up a summary after reading it! This happens to me whenever Dante describes politics in that day, since I know nothing about that topic!


Galicius Ashley wrote: "Wow...just got through Canto 6 in Purgatorio. It was very hard for me to follow what he was talking about. I had to look up a summary after reading it! This happens to me whenever Dante describes p..."

Canto 6 of Purgatorio is about the disarray of Italy. The metaphor of a game of hazard here refers to the idea of risk and danger and freedom man has in the relationship of man and God. Medieval concept of time is Boethian. God is outside of time and see past present and future while man does not. Dante introduces the chance and hazard.


message 16: by Ashley (last edited Sep 14, 2016 11:06AM) (new)

Ashley | 92 comments Mod
How is everyone doing with Dante?

I am going to push back the deadline for this book to October. I am farther behind than I thought I would be, but I think I can finish by then. If you are close to finishing it, feel free to start on our next book, which will be Rome Sweet Home by Scott Hahn. I thought a bit of light reading would be good after the past two heavier books we've read!

A few things I've noticed about Purgatory so far:

I find it interesting that each sin I've read about (so far) seems to affect the shades' sight. The prideful carry heavy stones and must look down at the ground...unable to look up toward heaven. The envious all have their eyes sewn shut. The wrathful cannot see due to the thick cloud of black smoke. The slothful are going so quickly they do not notice what is around them. It really illustrates how much sin blinds us, and why it's necessary for us to be cleansed of the effects of our sins so we can fully see the glory of God in heaven!

I absolutely loved Virgil's explanation of love in Canto 17. Especially this line:
" Hence you will see that love must be the seed within yourselves, whence every virtue springs and also every punishable action. Now since the face of love can never turn away from what promotes its object's good, all things are thus immune from their own hatred"

As Catholics, we know that love is not a feeling or an emotion (despite what our society tries to tell us)...it is a constant choice to put others' good before our own. To love God is to make the free choice to do good.

I did find it interesting how Virgil said: "Since no being e'er can be imagined as independent of its own Creator, it is impossible to hate one's God". What are your thoughts on this line?


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