Mrs. Jernigan's AP Class discussion

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Dante's Inferno > Dante

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message 1: by Maria (new)

Maria Jernigan (mariajernigan) | 113 comments Mod
Respond to the reading here.


message 2: by Maria (last edited Nov 09, 2014 06:38PM) (new)

Maria Jernigan (mariajernigan) | 113 comments Mod
Threshold Crossing: Paradiso Perduto

As we follow Dante underneath the perilous gates of hell, I recall Rodin's version of them and remember my favorite film version of Dickens' Great Expectations, which stars Ethan Hawke and Gweneth Paltrow. When Finn (have I mentioned the rock-star quality of this name?) enters the threshold of Miss Havisham's dilapidated manse, the gate bears the inscription Paradiso Perduto. "Paradise Lost" indeed, for once inside her haunted grounds, poor Finn seeks his own star (Estella) just like Dante treks towards his own in The Divine Comedy. THe gates of hell in Dante's epic read, "Abandon Hope: All Ye Who Enter." How many times have those infamous words been referenced, sketched, or hidden inside film, fiction, and the like? Their cadence issues a warning - an invitation to come see for yourself - cross the threshold and marvel at the sights and smells that await you.

Once Dante crosses this threshold, he will never be the same. Just like Joseph Conrad, who ventures down the Congo River to fulfill a dream, only to return home forever altered by what he discovered there: the dark hearts of men. Dante moves underneath the gates that shout forth a governing principle of hell itself that Vergil himself will need to remind his fearful initiate of throughout the journey: Divine Will created this justice. Even in the misery we find underneath the dark shadows, deep inside the foul pits, and above the air of raining fire, "it is willed" rings forth from our guide.

Questions to Consider:

1. While the gates predict what is to come, they also suggest what Dante will question. How indeed will he wrestle with sights so gruesome that he faints or calls on us to inspire him - encourage him - push him onward?

2. Based on how he ran from the she-wolf in the dark woods, what do we expect out of our "I am no Aeneas, no Paul?" Why then is he worthy for this journey?

3. Why is Vergil a significant guide for the exiled poet to follow?

4. What parallels does Dante introduce in the opening scene? How will these repeat as the poem continues?

5. How does Dante evoke visual, auditory, olfactory, and kinesthetic imagery as he guides us through Hell?


message 3: by Brian (new)

Brian Akers | 9 comments So far, I have been very surprised with Inferno. Going into the book, I was expecting somehting that i would only be able to describe as boring. Normally, when I read something from anywhere near the time period that Dante was alive, it is nearly impossible for me to enjoy. I do not like the writing style, the subject matter, or the characters within the stories. ALong with that, I normally do not find myself seeking out poetry of any kind. But Inferno is laying waste to all of the expectation that I had.
The detail and visualization provided by Dante is truly stunning. He is able to to paint such detailed and elegant portraits, but not even describing what areas or people look like, but by events and small details, leaving the reader to formulate the visual in their own mind. He plants nuggets of ideas, little details on what hell looks like, leaving the reader to build the massive landscapes that are present.
We have only read into the first level of hell, and it already seems more miserable and terrifying than I expected some of the lower levels to be. The way he describes the damned souls, "Blood mingling with their tears ran down their faces/and splashed the earth around them, where it fed/disgusting worms that wriggled in their traces", paints a picture of unadulterated misery and pain.
As Dante is describing all of these harrowing scenes, he himself becomes emotionally invested in the journey he is taking. In my mind before reading this, I thought he was going to be an observer, just describing what was in hell, not throwing himself into the fear and pain of it all. Dante is a weak man, one the needs help and assurance. When he awakens at the abyss and sees Virgil in his pale and pitying state, he says "I lean upon/your strength wehn I falter, when I am afraid./If you are frightened, how shall I go on?".
If this is what we have already seen in only the first level of these nine, I am terrified and excited by whatever is coming up in the future.


message 4: by Baillie (new)

Baillie | 11 comments Dante, believing himself to be a divine poet, is the most arrogant name-dropper in the history of the world. His guide on his journey through Hell is none other than the famous poet, Virgil, a fellow Italian who inspired Dante. Knowing his apparent arrogance to be perhaps too forceful, Dante proclaims that he is "not Aeneas, not Paul," in attempt to appeal to the common man (Canto 2 Line 32). However, this false attempt at humility only serves to greater increase Dante's arrogance; because he did not begin with humility, this after-thought of modesty stands out as an utter lie. Later on in the epic poem, Dante encounters Charon, the operator of the boat which carries souls down to Hell, and after Dante is scornfully rejected by Charon, Virgil reassures him: "No worthy spirit ever comes this way, so if Charon complained about you, it should be clear to you now just what his words convey" (Canto 3 Lines 127-129). Dante literally just called himself a "worthy spirit;" how arrogant can you get?! There's a healthy measure of self-confidence, and then there's Dante name-dropping the most famous poets of all time: "Homer the sovereign of all bards...Horace the satirist...Ovid...and Lucan" (Canto 4 Lines 88-90). As Virgil and Dante approach the quad, "they made far greater demonstration of honor, bringing me up to their height, making me sixth in their wisdom's congregation" (Canto 4 Lines 100-102). Dante just put himself on the same pedestal as the most famous and illustrious poets of history. Just...wow. Only a few lines later, Dante further establishes his right to being The World's Worst Name-Dropper by listing every single famous Greek and Roman character; Aeneas, Caesar, unnamed Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates, along with countless others. And of course, since Dante is such an excellent man in every aspect of his life, he attends a party with them, which of course he cannot tell the reader about because "the telling must fall short of the event" (Canto 4 Line 147). Now, I can sympathize with Dante on the slight indications of his arrogance, for Dante believes that those who gained fame and keep it after their death can still ascend to Heaven, even without being of upstanding moral character (Canto 4 Line 76-78). However, this does not excuse the false modest, the pedestal-placing, and the name-dropping, all of which are completely uncalled for and do not further to advance the story; they only serve to better Dante in his pitiful fight for a place beside his beloved at Heaven's door. A place which, in all honesty, he does not deserve.


message 5: by Hudson (new)

Hudson | 5 comments I find the book intruiging so far, the way that Dante interprets the afterlife is intruiging between the way that Dante paints the pictures of the damned, though we've only seen a glimpse with the procession of the liars with their stinging insects and worms groveling in their tread. I'm much more excited to continue becuase so far most of what we've read seems to be background or just telling of how great virgil is or how humble the pilgrim is. The mingling of non-christian pictures and physical monuments of hell and the obviously christian doctrine driving the narrative is also interesting, not sure whether it has significance or Dante is simply taking advantage of the cultural influence around him. As well as the insistence on placing people and names in hell, it isn't enough to simply label and describe hell as he sees it Dante, in all the humility we see in the pilgrim, must identify by name who resides in each location of hell/afterlife as he reaches it. He also commits a great deal of praise and affection for the heroes and characters from history who reside in Limbo interestingly enough, it's interesting how the discord between where Dante thinks these charactes should be, and where Knows they belong in the afterlife. Also the immidiate integration of the pilgrim the the five authors is intersting, moreso since they share secrets that the pilgrim can't retell. Other than that we see an apparently slow leveling of the pilgrim to Virgils "level", it will be iteresting if this continues throughout the novel, or not. Regardless the relationship between the pilgrim and Virgil is odd and will be closely followed.


message 6: by Rosie (new)

Rosie Gilman | 10 comments An aspect that I found interesting was Dante's arrogance in that he calls himself unworthy of this journey that he is about to embark upon with Virgil, and yet in Canto IV when they meet the other four poets (Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan), they bring him "up to their height" effectively elevating his own works through the decisions of renowned poets he reveres...that are currently just characters in his own book. Often, it seems that Dante's own personal opinions of different people are reflected in how he portrays them or 'their' opinions in his book.
Another thing that I found interesting is Dante's structure. He often parallels different symbols and different people in this book. For example: the leopard, lion, and she-wolf parallel Beatrice, Lucia, and Rachel. Symbols of lust, pride, and avarice contrast with ones of love, illuminating grace, and contemplative life. The gatekeeper of Hell, Charon is mirrored by Saint Paul, these characters are taken from the epic poems and from history, adding another layer of contrasting, paralleled, symmetrical imagery.


message 7: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Hansard I've never seen an author put himself into his works before unless it was strictly a biography. So when Dante the poet creates Dante the pilgrim, the everyman, I can't help but look at the interactions with characters and the environment with a healthy dose of skepticism. In Canto I, Dante gushes like a teenage girl over meeting his idol Vergil, being very forward in proclaiming it was studying Vergil's works that taught him to write, so he is an equal to his 'master'. But not five minutes before, Dante was a cowering pessimist when a she-wolf blocked the path up a hill. Surely if Vergil was Dante's hero then Dante would be a little more afraid of him than some wild animal. In Canto II, Dante tells his guide, "But why must I? On whose authority? I am not Aeneas, I am not Paul," stroking his ego and forgetting entirely about the incident at the bottom of the hill. Canto III can be ignored because Dante falls unconscious after crossing the river Acheron. A little earthquake frightened him to the point of fainting. But all great writers play down their weaknesses and elaborate on the best parts of their day! A prime example of that occurs in Canto IV when Vergil sees his old friends in the first ring of Hell, and after they acknowledge Dante with a nod, he thinks he has been invited into their inner circle,"bringing me up to their height, making me sixth in their wisdom's congregation" (IV, 102). It wouldn't be so bad if Vergil was an ordinary man. But his friends are all people of great merit, who would normally not give a normal author like Dante any consideration.
I'm quite intrigued to see how this will continue to develop, if Dante will keep playing down the negative aspects of his adventure as he descends to the depths of Hell, the City of Desolation.


message 8: by Jaela (new)

Jaela Scaife | 11 comments As scared as I was to the read this book I've actually enjoyed the first few chapters. In the beginning I Was overwhelmed by how quickly the story started without much background information or insight into the main character's stories and also keeping up with the speakers.

Transitioning from Lake of the Woods to this is interesting because I'm used to thinking on such a deep, psychological level and now I have to look more into detail and literary devices.
The imagery used really gives me a better idea of what is happening because I easily get caught up in the sound of a poem instead of the actual content.Phrases such as, "stinging wasps," "blood mingling with their tears" really depict the image of what Dante is surrounded by.
In the opening scene the story jumps straight into the plot entering Dante's life. Images are portrayed by various dark adjectives and details illustrating "the unknown." Next we meet VIrgil, who Dante refers to as master and leader bring about a sense of control and order in the mysterious place.
Another interesting observation is how Dante reacts. When he sees the revolting, disgusting people he has great sympathy for them and is brought to tears. Yet he was just surrounded by forest and was overcome with great fear.

Also, in the beginning Dante tries to humble himself, deeming himself "unworthy", which is ironic that later on VIrgil claims "No worthy spirit ever comes this way" (35). This sentence foreshadows the journey of the divine poet and Virgil that will come along with much darkness, mystery, and pain.


message 9: by Anne (new)

Anne Merrill | 11 comments Somehow, through the nature of my being, I’ve always been the type of person to devour epic works such as this whole – there’s just something about them that I subconsciously gravitate towards, and I’m completely secure in my speculation that there is something wrong with me because of that. Not like, totally messed up, because I’m not living based off them, but I do find myself enjoying the darker, more psychologically twisted side of art. Until now, I’ve constantly analyzed Literature that doesn’t quite fit what I feel is interesting – but Dante’s Inferno is a perfect fit. I know we’ve barely breached the poem’s full appeal, but even now, in the first few chapters, I am so unbelievably pleased with how it’s written, how it affects ones mind, and the questions and concepts that it develops. There’s something special about a book that gives you chills; one that’s so simple in its explanation but terrifying in true thought that you’re unaware if the chills are from the chilling air around you, or the idea of slowly traveling down the pathway of Hell.

From the very first line, where Dante’ delves into the moment where his descent began, he greets the reader by noting that it was midway through “our” journey of life, establishing that idea that he is just as human and susceptible to these experiences as anyone else. He’s not giving himself a title or placing him in a select group, because through telling his tale, Dante wants it to be known that this is fate for all who fall short of the straight pathway – he’s personalizing himself with the reader, so that they may follow alongside him on the journey and face the darkness as well, even if it is just through the text. In Canto II, Dante goes on to protest that he is “not Aeneas” or Paul, two individuals worthy of experiencing such unbelievable events, and continues to push his claim of being like the everyday man. This idea of being an innocent man in the depths of Hell is a shattering idea – knowing that Dante, a poet of great accomplishment and influence, sees himself as one of us and believes his power to be weak in comparison to the celestial, fears his journey shakes the reader up. He’s relatable, and you feel yourself alongside him as he experiences Hell and -- I don’t even know – that just sort of messes with me. Dante doesn’t give himself the typical heroic characterization, which makes it relatable and, in course, helps drive the theme and overall meaning of the poem that proposes the idea that unless given fully to salvation, this is what lies ahead for all.

Throughout the text, Dante implies the use of various literary tactics, but his use of description to not only depict the fear within himself, but also the fear that will infiltrate the reader, evokes an uneasy feeling about continuing on through the descending levels. The first two Cantos eased the reader in, hinting at the awaiting darkness, but setting up the story and introducing other bodies that are beneficial to the story. In Canto III, the lines inscribed over the entrance to hell greet Dante and the reader, which establishes a sense of fear from the very beginning. This is where the story begins to shift and words such as “darkness,” “bright red,” and “deep” come into use as the world of Hell takes shape around Dante. His description of the eternal pit coincides what has been taught before, and develops it even more through the introduction of characters and their stories, and the events that occur while Dante is there. To me, it’s just numbing to relive this journey and it makes me fear that fate – that’s what Dante wants, because he wants to help and share this journey.


message 10: by Maria (last edited Nov 14, 2014 07:06AM) (new)

Maria Jernigan (mariajernigan) | 113 comments Mod
Something Wicked This Way Comes

Nestled amongst the violent in Circle Seven of Dante's Hell, his mentor and teacher Brunetto Latini greets the quester with knitted "brows as an old tailer does when he attempts to thread a needle's eye" (15.20-21). As the teacher grabs his arm and says, "How marvelous!" (24), Dante notices his "scorched visage" and "baked features" (27). This exchange serves several purposes. Dante himself reveals the first of these when he exclaims to his old friend, "If I could have the things for which I pray [...] then you would not yet be banished from our humanity this way" (79-81). Latini's presence amongst the homosexuals or violent against God and nature serves to objectify the poet's created cosmos. In other words, Dante the poet hopes to validate his construct - confirming that he shows no favoritism in his Hell - that even his beloved teacher is not exempt from God's justice. The second factor of interest here is that through Latini's words, Dante (the pilgrim) gets reassured about the success of his journey as he says, "Follow your star and you will certainly come to a glorious harbor" (56) and see the "sweet life" (57).

Once Dante and Vergil leave circle seven, they move into the lower regions of Hell that will reveal punishments so severe and grotesque - he will struggle to convey the sights to the reader. As they move towards the boundary between the two circles, Geryon, "the beast with the pointed tail" (17.1), appears on the ledge like "a boat will lie along the shore half in the water and half upon the ground" (17.19-20). Dante tells us that he "makes the world a festering morass" (3) and serves as their transport to the next circle. The "hideous shoulders" (92) of the beast terrify Dante, and he decrees his fear is greater than that of Phaethon when he "dropped the reigns [...] and burned the sky" (107-8) or Icarus when "the wax began to melt [...] and his feathers fell away" (108-110). In lower Hell, the guards are hybrids - half man and half beast- symbolizing the crimes punished in this section of the poem. Geryon, no different, has the "face of a just man" (10) and the tail "forked" (26) "like a scorpion's sting" (27). This creature represent Fraud and introduces Dante to the types of sinners he will meet below. In Dante's design, he confirms fraud's power over violence to cripple, destroy, and devastate others.


message 11: by Baillie (new)

Baillie | 11 comments Poor, Unfortunate Souls by Baillie Woodward

Throughout Dante's descent into Hell, he happens upon poor, unfortunate souls, many of whom Dante knew when they were alive. To better understand much of what these souls say to Dante, the reader must understand that in Dante's time of around 1300, if one was remembered long after his or her death, the afterlife became a much more enjoyable experience: "their fame, which time did not erase...allows them to advance through heaven's grace" (Canto IV Lines 76, 78). A Ser Brunetto, who was Dante's guardian after Dante's father died, comes across Dante in the inbetween stages of circles 6 and 7. They rejoice together at another chance to see each other, speaking of those around them and Dante's life; however, at the end of their discussion, Ser Brunetto asks Dante to "let my Treasure, where I still live on...live in your memory" (Canto XV Lines 119-120). This Treasure he is referring to his one of his more popular books, written in the vernacular. Ser Brunetto, although an alright person during his living years, nonetheless fell victim to the sin of homosexuality, thus why he is in Hell. It is odd that throughout his journey, Dante feels a great amount of pity for those he meets, but when he comes across Ser Brunetto, he never once speaks of pity or sympathy. Instead, to Dante, Ser Brunetto "seemed not to be the one who loses, but the one who wins the prize" (Canto XV Lines 123-124). Whether or not this is another attempt at showing his own arrogance, Dante certainly does not feel any remorse for seeing his guardian, a strong indicator of both Dante and his time's dislike of homosexuality. However, apparently even Dante can find love in his heart for his guardian, for he truly did spread the word of Ser Brunetto's Treasure, although I highly doubt that this recognition earned him a spot at Heaven's door. This theme of fame continues into Canto XVI, where three men, Guido Guerra, Tegghiaio Aldobrandi, and Iacopo Rusticucci, confront Dante to "let our fame prevail on you to tell who you are" (Canto XVI Lines 31-32). Apparently, even in Hell, fame earns people the right to question other's purposes. I'm sure this theme of fame will continue on, even into the very edge of Hell, where many poor, unfortunate souls will seek the realistically unfruitful position that is fame.


message 12: by Anne (new)

Anne Merrill | 11 comments Now, because of Dante’s unique characterization and personalization of himself throughout the novel, the reader is able to navigate the dark paths of Hell alongside him as he follows Virgil through the darkest depths that rest down below. Those who inhabit the vast hole lack the normal features of a living human, often appearing disfigured and tormented in their presence, and leaving not only Dante disturbed by what can become of life, but also the reader, because they are constantly given descriptions of these souls through Dante’s eyes. Since the book is narrated in first-person, the reader is able to place themselves in the role of Dante with each use of a personal pronoun -- we become submerged in the world alongside Dante and his master, because we are granted the chance to tag along on this journey as well, and through the commentary provided, we soon become fearful of what Dante sees, because that is what we believe we’re seeing, too. This infiltration of the reader’s mind is constantly one of Dante’s devices of telling a story that will impact others. He built the character of himself to resemble the average man in hopes of appealing to him, because that’s who is granted the chance to read of his journey and alter his life once the fear of Hell has settled deep in his bones. Dante did not just create a character that was synthetically built to withstand the trauma of this journey, or one that was somehow blessed with the ability to transcend the lines of the physical and spiritual worlds; he simply wove himself into an unbelievable story that becomes believable by his simplicity of the common man. That, really, is what I believe the whole novel is driven by -- the common man, and the idea that Hell truly does exist once the physical body has come to an end and that one must fear this place in order to truly avoid walking down its fiery paths. Instead of preaching to the masses with numerous verses from the Bible, Dante creates an actual story that takes on the idea of the immortal world in a new way. I think that is what truly provides the fear in the novel, because, as the readers, we see just how familiar and accessible this land is.

In Canto XV, the two travelers continue their way into the lower rings of Hell, walking alongside the banks of a boiling river that neutralizes the burning flakes of rage that fall from the skies above. This is where Dante is reunited with Brunetto Latini, who influenced the poet greatly in his life before resting in Hell. Again, this adds to Dante’s reality because we see someone that held a great role in his life suffer because of his unnatural way; -- I WILL FINISH LATER OK


message 13: by Hudson (new)

Hudson | 5 comments By the thinnest of veils

Throughought the book there has been signs and hints of how Dante felt towards cities and people he knew in life, but in cantos 15-17 the gloves come off. by the prophecy that "[those] from Fiesole, a race of envy, avarice and pride" that the city itself was "turned into a courruption nest". Then in canto 18 a patriarch of Florence is made aware that "new people and sudden wealth have brought your land so much excess and vanity, O Florence". Again in canto 17 Dante assails a number of Florentine and Paduan families by casting their family symbols around the necks of those in the seventh circle, and even going so far as to identify the coming of the "sovereign cavelier who will bring the purse with the three goats". It seems that Dante either through rage or pleasure can't help but identify those he wishes would be in hell as he sees it. And the references in the reading were almost exclusively related to contemporaries in Dante's own lifetime, or the time close to it unlike previously when great numbers of those the pilgrim finds are spread well through history. The social commentary given is comparable to the thinly veiled biting fiction of Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer.


message 14: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Hansard The Inferno: A Distoring, Cleansing Fire and a Chance of Redemption

In Canto XV, Dante recognized by a shade and had to "[study] his scorched visage..till [his] memory allowed their original image to come clear". The further Dante descends into Hell, the heavier the crime committed, but the more tainted and unrecognizable the shades become. The earlier circles had the shades wandering endlessly or lying in filth, but this particular level combines the two. If the shades tire of wandering around the desert, they are forced to lay on the burning sands and let falling bits of fire torment them. The idea of tarnishing or destroying the shades' images has grown more prominent as the circles go deeper into Hell, transforming the spiritual nature as well as the physical nature. Wandering around in the desert without purpose reminds me of the Israelite wandering the desert for 40 years before they could enter the Promised Land. Even though the shades are doomed to eventually have their bodies scarred and burned beyond recognition, Dante is fated to be reunited with Beatrice. He will reach the ultimate Promised Land, Heaven. But he has to finish his own time in the desert through his descent through hell and journey through Purgatory.

In Canto XVII, Dante briefly talks to the people sitting on the edge of the abyss. They had a purse hanging around their neck in the image of their family crest. This brief encounter was another reminder of the corrupt and vain state that Florence is in. I don't think it was said what these people where here for, but it brought up the tainted image motif again. To me, the "great purse" represented the burden of stagnant wealth and each shade's vanity was shown in how each seemed to be so obsessed with "[feasting] his eyes" on his own money purse. It was interesting to see how the majority of the shades Dante meets want him to mention them on his return to the living world, as giving them fame would allow them to go to Heaven. Perhaps everyone may be redeemed after all.


message 15: by Brian (new)

Brian Akers | 9 comments Ain't No Rest For The Wicked

After all these Cantos filled with misery and pain, the sinners and sufferers that are trapped in the circles of Hell, Dante has decided to take a moment and give the reader a reprieve from it all.'
In Cantos XV and XVI, Dante takes some time to write about people, about souls that are in the midst of the seventh circle. He meets an acquaintance from earth, Brunetto, who approaches Dante with positivity and goodwill, despite suffering through "his scorched visage... and baked features", indicating wishing great things for Dante's future (XV.26-27). In the second zone of the circle, he meets with souls who knew him from above, again burned and unrecognizable, but still approached him asking about the beauty and valor of the city that they left. Dante seems to be using these characters to ellicit some sort of feeling of comfort, giving the reader an oppotunity to relax in the safety of their words and the overall tone of ease that permeates these two chapters. Even during this, though, Dante cannot let the characters go completely unharmed. He rejects Brunetto's well wishes, and destroys the three souls' image of their home by telling them it has become corrupted and sinful. Even through the pity that he feels for these characters, he breaks through the positivity that they are trying to establish.
This seems to highlight Dante's progression in his descent towards the bottom of hell, his becoming increasingly accustomed to, and almost jaded towards, the suffering and atrocities of Hell. In the beginning of his journey, he fainted and wept for these damned souls, and has become increasingly less pitying and hopeful towards them. He said he felt no pity in the earlier circles, and no, even though he does, he destroys the hope of those who come to him in the circles. Virgil is becoming much more pleased of Dante's mood and responses, saying to him "He listens well who makes note of it", an approval of his treatment toward Brunetto (XV.99). All of this though, is just a reprieve for the reveal at the end of Canto XVI.
From the water comes the beast Greyon, an enormous, monsterous being who will serve as their transport to the eight circle. After this introduction, Dante uses the drama and horro to show another group of sufferers under the fiery rain. After the brief release of the last coulple of Cantos, Dante reveales his intent to carry on, and that the worst pain and misery is all ahead.


message 16: by Jaela (last edited Nov 14, 2014 07:47PM) (new)

Jaela Scaife | 11 comments Remember Me

As we delve deeper into Hell Dante runs into his old mentor, Brunetto. I find it interesting that Dante is able to recognize his face. However, they begin to speak and converse and once again Dante is pressed with the question “why are you here before your time?” The two men aren’t allowed to walk on the same level, ironically Brunetto is a level above Dante, “I walked beside him with my head bowed low” (163). This is also interesting because this also shows Dante viewing hell from the outside, which is ironic because he was exiled on earth. They go on to speak about Dante’s works and how Brunetto is sad he is missing Dante’s life, yet his good works will one day be rewarded. Here, Dante alludes to seeing and telling Beatrice of this prophecy- “if I ever reach her side” (164). Suddenly Brunetto’s demeanor changes and he hastens to escape in fear of something unknown, but like every other person encountered he makes sure to have his name remembered “But let my Treasure, where I still live on- I ask no more- live in your memory” (167). Once again the hope of being remembered is shown but Brunetto wastes no time and quickly tries to disappear. What is coming that could be so terrifying in the depths of Hell? Who are the people with whom he must not be?

Soon after three shades appear to Dante- once again we see the number three. Virgil sees it fit to talk to them and they suddenly turn into a wheel, forming one. Again in the first words said they speak of their fame "let our fame prevail on you to tell” (173) to gain Dante’s assurance he will speak of them. Dante recognizes the men and speaks of the great honor he had for them, but then his arrogance resurfaces- the irony. Here Dante is reassuring them he will speak of their great fame yet he suddenly brags about his own life “I will leave the gall, to go where sweet fruits dwell, as my honest leader promised me, although, I must first go down to the very core of hell” (175). We also see Dante switch between Pilgrim and poet in this cantos when talking about what emerges from the dark depths “But reader here I can not hold my tongue…” (179). Dante sways in and out of personalities here.

This chapter changes Dante from arrogance to fear. Upon entering there is a beast and VIrgil tells Dante to walk around “to take the whole experience of the circle with him” (181). Dante goes and speaks with men who have colored purses around their necks, but soon is intimidated by them comparing them to oxen. He runs back to Virgil and is told to jump on the Geryon to fly, “then I was filled with even greater fright, seeing fires and hearing cries of misery, and, trembling in every part” (187). This is funny because in the chapter before Dante takes on a sense of arrogance and suddenly he is terrified and weak. Throughout these chapters the reader sees a pattern develop of the need for attention/fame. For the souls lost in Hell they need to be remembered, their lives reminisced to hopefully gain their entrance to heaven. Yet while those people are stuck, Dante just walks through Hell arrogantly claiming all he has to do is get to the "core of Hell".


message 17: by Rosie (new)

Rosie Gilman | 10 comments In Cantos 15-17 in Dante's Inferno, a continuous theme has been disrupted. From the beginning, the few people Dante had believed in their virtue were shown in the very first circle of Hell that he and Virgil travelled to. Now, here in one of the layers of the seventh circle, a man who Dante considers virtuous and kind is discovered. Brunetto's "kind, paternal, loving face" breaks the theme of Dante's enemies being flaunted and lessens the sense of bias to a certain extent. Brunetto also infiltrates the theme of the prophecies as he gives one of his own, supporting Dante's views more strongly because he has been seen with favor in Dante's eyes. Strangely, this disruption also serves the theme of Dante's arrogance. Support from an intimate friend in the face of his enemies elevates Brunetto's prophecy and firmly casts Dante into the role of the victim from his exile and the treatment he receives from his enemies in the world above. Dante becomes a character in need of comfort and sympathy which the reader may give even if his own arrogance is clear.
The Emporer's Club parallels the mentor relationship that Virgil and Dante have
The dark waters of the Styx weave their own path through the narrative, Dante always brings it to mind whenever he is on a dangerous precipice, his balance threatening to pitch him forward into the murky depths. The Styx is a stark reminder of the dangers of being the only living soul among the walking dead. Virgil pushes on, claiming that "it has been willed" by Beatrice above, but Brunetto warns that if Dante leaves the path to join him on lower ground even for "a second, the laws require that he lie for a hundred years on the burning plain."
The dead take notice of Dante, for he can move the rocks with his feet and stands out among the shades. They are jealous and angered at their sins being revealed and their punishment made public, even some of the guards, like Minos, warns Dante of the dead's powers of manipulation, telling him: "beware how you enter and where you place your confidence." Similar to the reader's reliance on Dante to report these events.


message 18: by Maria (last edited Dec 02, 2014 07:53AM) (new)

Maria Jernigan (mariajernigan) | 113 comments Mod
Threads

Sign up for a thread to track through Dante.

1. Fusion between Dante the pilgrim/Dante the poet (Baillie)
2. Evolution of the Everyman (mentor/pupil relationship) (Jaela)
3. Supremacy of Divine Will (Rosie)
4. Intended Audience (name-dropping, baiting the audience)
5. Reaction of the Sinners & Guards (Hudson)
6. The Subtextual Love story
7. The Method to his madness (craft of the storytelling) (Brian)
8. Ode to the City: Florence and Mantua (Jernigan)
9. Perfect Contrapasso: Symbolic Brilliance of Dante's Hell (Jennie)


message 19: by Maria (last edited Nov 18, 2014 08:04AM) (new)

Maria Jernigan (mariajernigan) | 113 comments Mod
Assignment:

Track your individual pattern from the beginning of the poem. Build a case for your pattern by including quotes that demonstrate it. Utilize citations (Dante 16. 20-21). Title your thread at the top of your post. You can make commentary after you show the pattern or you may connect quotes individually with your observations.


message 20: by Maria (last edited Nov 18, 2014 08:50AM) (new)

Maria Jernigan (mariajernigan) | 113 comments Mod
The Evolution of the Everyman

683 years before Arthur Miller coined his "Tragedy and the Common Man" article in the New Yorker, Dante, writing in exile, sent a commoner to wage war against his sins, his fears, and the dark pits of Hell.

At the Beginning: Dante - Pilgrim

Awakening in the "Dark Wood" (1.2) - "just how I entered there I cannot say" (1.10), Dante opens the poem full of "fright that had allowed the lake of my heart no rest/ while I endured the long and piteous night" (21) The poet compares his alter ego as a "drowning man with heaving chest" (22) as he tries to survive and acclimate to his surroundings. He attempts to climb the mountainside but encounters the leopard, the lion, and the she-wolf, who "made [him] feel so week/so overcome with dread/that instantly I lost all hope of climbing to the peak," (52-54) for the beast "makes [his] pulses shake with fright" (90). His emotional reaction remains weak as he compares himself to one who "giv[es' way to weeping and to misery" (57) "when time brings him losses" (56). Virgil's appearance gives him hope - for now he has a guide to lead him through the mire and away from the she-wolf. What he fails to realize is that he will encounter far greater fears and sights than lonely wolf on a hill.

As they near the opening to hell, Dante tells us he "was preparing all alone to endure/the rest of the journey" (2.4). He questions Vergil by asking him to "weigh whether or not [he] is fit for" (2.11-12) this journey, and uses the disclaimer, "I am not Aeneas, not Paul. Why should I seek what neither I nor anyone thinks me worthy to do" (2. 31-33). Verg even critiques his "cowardice" (2.45) and attempts to "free him from [his] fear"(49). Once he shares their divine mission
divine mission, Dante's fear subsides and he says with a newly acquired confidence, "Now let us start, for the forcefulness of what you say has sent my heart new eagerness to go with you" (2. 136-7).

The gates of Hell frighten the pilgrim who once again looks to his mentor for reassurance. Verg abates his fears with "Here all your cowardice is to fall dead" (3. 15) and he leads him gently into the realm of the Opportunists, "who have lost the good use of the mind" (3. 18). Once the "sighs and laments and loud wails fill [his] ears" (3.22), Dante bursts into tears. He "crie[s] as the horror swirled around [his] head"(3. 32), seeking guidance and answers from Vergil about why they suffer. His tone wreaks of passive deference and even a pathetic reluctance as he listens to Vergil's speech about these "wretched" (16) souls who "never lived, whose lives were lies" (3. 64). His questions seem simple - made out of fear NOT curiosity, making him an antithetical quester. On the surface level, he seeks escape NOT salvation at this point. Once he spots Acheron and Charon, Dante "[says] no more but walk[ed] with eyes downcast, and shame-filled too" (3. 80). Clearly, a delineation between heroic expectation and cowardly internalization. Once they have crossed the river, the "dark plain shook so violently" that Dante "like a man that sleep has overtaken [...] fell down" (3. 136).

Once inside Limbo, Dante relies on Vergil's strength but finds him pale and lifeless. Even questioning his mentor for "if you are frightened, how shall I go on?" (4.18). Here marks a change in our quester, for Limbo awakens his curiosity momentarily as he inquires if any of these souls "ever leave here for heaven?" (4. 49). Removed from his initial fear, Dante appears to take note and interest in his new surroundings; he begins to question the shades themselves. After his arrogance resides ("sixth in their wisdom's congregation" (4. 102), he narrates his sights with objective awe - spellbound at those who stand before him in Hell's antechamber. His voice remains consistent as he leaves the circle as he refrains from sharp imagery or even emotionally infused words to describe his departure. This circle has reassured him - given him new confidence in what he will see below. Of course, at this point, this emotion is false confidence - one that will shatter in the next circle, but for now he is content with his "mission" and his execution of it.

At circle two, he opens his lines of questioning in the same objective inquiry that he utilized in the previous circle - "Who are these souls?" (5. 51). However, once Verg mentions their sin - "love took them from [their] life" (5. 67), he was "overwhelmed" and feels his "senses fall to pity" (71-72).


message 21: by Jennifer (last edited Dec 09, 2014 08:44AM) (new)

Jennifer Hansard Perfect Contrapasso: Symbolic Brilliance of Dante's Hell



1. Limbo: "So they cross the murky water, and before they have even landed on the other side, a new crowd gathers on this bank once more" (3. 118-120). The souls caught in limbo lived lives neither good nor evil, so they are not permitted to cross the river with Charon. They can't face the punishments of the evil because they are not technically in Hell, nor can they escape and go to a better place. They were mediocre when living and thus will be treated as mediocre when dead.

2. Lustful: "The hellish wind blows free, sweeping the headlong through the air. It whirls and pounds and mauls them endlessly" (5. 31-33). The souls caught up in this eternal tempest are those who were lustful. Because they sought pleasure and stimulation relentlessly when they lived, they will be tortured relentlessly by being blown about by "violent gusts" that stimulates their bodies in an ill-preferred manner.

3. Sullen/Angry: "The souls that anger overwhelmed...more dead are down there, underwater where they sigh and make the surface bubble with their breath and you can tell wherever you turn your eye. Set in the slime, they say: 'We are the sullen, with no pleasure in the sweet, sun-gladdened air, carrying in our souls the fumes of sloth" (7. 121-123). The sullen chose to not find satisfaction in life and became obsessed with negativity, so the natural fate is to give them what they wanted. They lie forever brooding in the muck underneath a filthy river, unseen and unheard save for when the surface bubbles with their sighs. They sigh now because they are hateful of their decision rather than being hateful of the world. But it still strengthens their negativity, which was the purpose of the black river.

4. Heretics: p100-101 (tombs glowing red from scattered fire (each dif temp) heretics and followers (different range of sin))

5. Flatterers: "From that great height we stared down at the scene of a swarm of people plunged into a mess that looked as if it came from a latrine" (18. 112-114). The souls here are flatterers, known in life for sucking up to people for their own personal gain. Flattery is an act that marks people as undesirable when one can see through the sappy words and notice that the flatterer doesn't care about the other guy at all. Because flatterers are smiling faces with ulterior intentions, casting them into a literal pit of feces is a beautiful way of showing them their worth. Flatterers discard their own image to perform what's most pleasing to whoever they're trying to leech off of. But on the inside, the disgusting nature of their selfishness remains constant. Squatting in the feces, there is nothing to flatter any more. They are all the same miserable wretches with nothing remotely beautiful to compliment.
--

Corrupt Politicians: "had trickery to spare" in spite of punishment (22. 109) souls inside boiling pitch/glue, sometimes come up to lessen the pain but then thrust down further, demons around torturing (rubicant, spikebeard, etc. pursue after v and d)

Hypocrites "The eye was dazzled" by the "gilded clothes", but "the leaden capes with which they were arrayed so weighed them down and made their steps so slow, we saw new faces with each stride we made" (23. 70-72.) The Hypocrites are pretenders, people who put on a hat and declare they are someone else. Dante was distracted/drawn to the glittering clothes they wore, but the lead on the inside revealed their true nature, and in turn, their perfect punishment. Hypocrites may be used to bouncing around cities, cheating people or else tricking them into believing a lie. The hypocrites in hell have slowed to a crawl because of their burden, giving them time to think about who they are underneath the ornate outward appearance. When Dante and Vergil are walking through the hypocrites, the souls are everywhere. It may just be the leaded capes makes the souls all walk the same pace, but it may be reflective of the sheer amount of hypocrites that go about their business on the earth at any given time.

Thieves:"Terrified souls were running, with no hope...that they would find a crevice where they could hide" (24. 91-93). if bitten, they were turned to ash, then resurrected.

Schismatics: 28 people pulling themselves apart scandal and schism, ripped "every member of this miserable parade, for every time we have circled the whole pit we are healed of the cuts he has already made" 40-42 bad council,




message 22: by Hudson (last edited Dec 10, 2014 02:57PM) (new)

Hudson | 5 comments The reactions of the guards and other creatures of the depths to Dante and Virgil's plight

The guards as they encounter Dante react in dramatically different ways, for example Cerberus and the Minotuar act Cerberus have beastial and visceral reactions, "Cerberus saw us and at once bared the fangs of his three mouths, and never ceased moving his limbs, all quivering and tense"(6) and the Minotuar "began to bite himself at the sight of us" and moved "like a bull that suddenly breaks free". Though the great beast Geryon is much more docile,"we were discharged by Geryon at the very base of the jagged cliff" (17). While other guards like the harpies don't even meet Dante as he passes through their domain. Though the demons still hold a righteous disdain for Dante and Virgil. They go so far as to bar the door and exclaim "who is this man who dares traipse about through the kingdom of the dead without having died?", only relenting to the authority of the celestial being that moves them aside. Again, another batch of demons aggress upon Virgil next to the lake of pitch as they, "all at a sprint and pointing their hooks at him" with seemingly malicious intent are again woefully denied by the devine authority Virgil has been grabted to weild pushing them aside by saying "let us pass, for it is Heaven's command that I lead another on this savage trail". The other guards that dwell in Hell like King Minos who goes so far as to give advice, or at least warning for Dante as he traipses through Hell for instance "O you who come to this house of pain, beware how you enter and place your confidence. Do not let yourself be fooled by the wide door". The ferrymen Charon as well gives Dante the instruction to seek passage over the river "By another way, by other ports, not here you will be brought across to shore. A lighter craft will carry you instead", while not a traditional greek welcome, for Hell, is a beneficent encounter to say the least.

It seems that the greater the sentience of the guard, the greater the respect for the divine, and the more respectful and accommodating the encounter with Dante. When Dante encounters the beats, Cerberus and Minotaur, they act with a profound lack of enlightenment to the situation as would be expected from a dog. Even when Dante and Virgil meet Geyron, he has no obvious qualms flying them where they need to go, showing at least some level of respect for Vergils holy ticket. A further step up would be the late King Minos, the judge, while he is an impressive, powerful and foreboding character, the only dialoge he gives is a warning to Dante, which is far from what one would imagine from Hell's only Judge, especially considering the state of Dante's heart going into hell. But he doesn't encourage Dante towards what he knows will be Dante's death and life sentence in hell, and he only ceases his warning when he witnesses the divine authority Virgil lays before him. Furthermore the ferrymen perform a similar function as Minos with slightly different stories, but the same principle. The next step forward in sentience and understanding is with the centaurs, while they aggressively defend their plains of hell, they quickly fold to the celestial mission Dante has before him and even go so far as to give him a guide to lead them through the malevolent fields. The demons add a much more interesting twist to the concept of sentience giving understanding and reverence as a result of the understanding, because God's divinity does indeed rule over all of hell. But back to the demons, they have an interesting role, because they are portrayed as oafish and dull. But in accordance with the Biblical narrative, demons are at the mercy of God's hand, and respect its power. Though the crucial distinction is that they are able to defy the will of God. No other character can say the same. Though they're still subject to control as when the angel strode to the city of Dis and had the gates opened, but that was only because they refused Virgil's initial statement of God's will (more specifically Beatrice's will but she seems to be a proxy for the divine will throughout the novel) will that they be there. The second example is different in which at the edge of the boiling lake of pitch, Virgil secures the compliance of the troop of demons, but they eventually end up seeking their destruction, contrary to what *heaven* wants for the pair of travelers.


message 23: by Rosie (last edited Dec 09, 2014 07:59AM) (new)

Rosie Gilman | 10 comments Supremacy of Divine Will

"You will see those blest, if that is your desire, with a worthier soul than I. Into her hands I will entrust you when I can go no higher." (Dante 1. 121-123)

Virgil is sent to Dante by Beatrice's will from Heaven, he often cites her order whenever they encounter a questioning soul or guard

"The Emporer who presides above commands, since I did not heed his law, that none may gain entrance through me to where his city stands. His rule is everywhere. There is his reign, his city, and his throne! Happy are they whom he chooses to inhabit that domain!" (Dante 1. 124-129)

Virgil is talking about God, that faith is a saving factor, loosely quotes scripture "none may go to the father except through me" - Jesus, his rule is ever present, but God belongs above with the good souls.

"How often I will speak to praise you when I stand before my Lord upon his throne...God's grace has made me so I cannot be moved in my heart by all your suffering or touched by all the flames surrounding me" (Dante 2. 73-74. 91-93)

"So I have come to you as was her will" (Dante 2. 118)

"What is this, then?...great good is to come of this?" (Dante 2. 121-126)

Beatrice is connected to God simply by being in heaven. Her will for Virgil is comparable to the will of God, often encouraging Dante that none can thwart what had been willed by her.

"This it is willed where there is power to do what has been willed, so question it no more." (Dante 3. 95-96)
Virgil pushes Charon back, using his authority of a guide employed by Heaven to bypass and continue Dante's journey.

"As God's own justice works upon them, they begin to feel desire in place off ear." (Dante 3. 125-126)
"Those who preceded Christianity...desire gnaw." (Dante 4. 37-42)

Everything that is happening around them is God's will. Those that did not reach heaven have been sent to hell: God's system.

"A mighty one...earliest ones." (Dante 4. 53-63)
Virgil recounts Christ descending into hell and raising those that were worthy to Heaven with him, God has the power to pull the unfortunates out of hell, and yet he does not - not before or since that day.

"Do not obstruct...question it no more." (Dante 5. 22-24)
Virgil once more pushes the guard aside to continue the journey Beatrice has put before them.

"If the king of the universe was not our foe, then we would surely pray to him." (Dante 5. 91-92)

God has condemned those in hell to stay there and suffer; his system

"He will not stir again...sounding of eternity." (Dante 6. 94-99)
Virgil speaks of the second coming

"Not without reason do we now advance...the arrogant offense." (Dante 7. 10-12)
Virgil references Beatrice's command to bring Dante through Hell to Heaven

"He whose wisdom transcends all...another race." (Dante 7. 73-81)
Virgil speaks of God's system for Hell, his divine justice punishing those who have sinned.

"Coming straight...city will be opened wide." (Dante 8. 127-130)
Virgil is referencing the second coming of Christ

"Still, we were meant to be victorious...til someone comes to us." (Dante 9. 7-9)
This is the first time we see Virgil begin to doubt Beatrice - from 'on high' - it appears out of character from his unwavering faith in her from the beginning, which started this entire journey for Dante.

"I knew that he had come at Heaven's will." (Dante 9. 85)
Dante acknowledges that Virgil was sent to him - to protect and defend him on his journey through Hell to Heaven

"Safe in the holy words and unafraid...and we went inside" (Dante 9. 104-105)
The 'holy words' are Beatrice's command, from Heaven - once again, on par with Heaven's commands

"the lord supreme still grants us that much light...time is shut." (Dante 10. 103)
Farinata speaks, the gift of prophesy given to those who suffer with him by God, but this gift will end when Christ comes again, when there will be no more time.


"why justice has seen fit to draw a line...battered by God's law.' (Dante 11. 88-90)
Virgil speaks of God's divine judgement, how even in Hell, God differentiates the punishment to be exact.

"I conduct this living man ever deeper through the regions of the dead. To show him all hell's levels is my plan" (Dante 29. 94-96).
Virgil speaks of Beatrice's plan for him to guide Dante, once again equating Beatrice's command as one from God himself.

"we entered on that hidden road to find our way once more into the world of light" (Dante 34. 133-134).
Virgil has successfully led Dante out of hell, just as Beatrice commanded.


message 24: by Baillie (last edited Dec 02, 2014 08:32AM) (new)

Baillie | 11 comments Fusion of Dante and Dante: The Poet and The Pilgrim

description

Dante, being the upstanding man that he is, places himself as the main character of his vernacular work, The Comedy. In doing so, Dante must greatly skew his view of himself and of his main character, which in turn creates occasional instances where both the poet and the pilgrim fuse. Dante, being rather aware of his apparent arrogance due to his choice of character, must quickly inform the reader that he is a common man, unworthy of such a trip into the depths of Hell: "I am not Aeneas, not Paul. Why should I seek what neither I nor anyone who thinks me worthy to do?" (2.32-34). Both Aeneas and Paul are well-known for their greatness in and around Italy, and in this fusion between poet and pilgrim, Dante ensures his fellow Italians that he is just like them. However, because Dante the poet is in charge of what Virgil, Dante the pilgrim's guide, says, Dante can easily reassure himself of his worthiness: "No worthy spirit ever comes this way, so if Charon now complained about you, it should be clear to you now just what his words convey" (3.127-129). Dante must be really worthy to have been able to gain entrance into Hell. Oh but don't worry, Dante already told that to himself. As if it weren't enough that Dante gained entrance to Hell, he also places himself in a place of honor, "making [himself] sixth in their wisdom's congregation" (4.102), thus making himself one of the five, now six, greatest poets of all time: Homer, Horace, Ovid, Lucan, Virgil, and Dante. Perhaps Dante was fated to become a fantastic poet, after all, his pilgrim self is fated to travel through Hell's depths (5.22). However, when Dante happens upon the two ill-fated lovers, sent to the second circle of Hell for pursuing an affair between each other, Dante the poet has a sudden realization: 'if these two have been sent to Hell for loving each other, then surely my affair with Beatrice outside of my wife's knowledge will be sorely punished!' Thusly, Dante faints (5.140). Dante the poet, in an attempt to pay for his crimes and find favor in the reader's eyes, forces Dante the pilgrim to succumb to the natural effect of gravity and faint, although Dante claims that it is due to pity and not to guilt (5.141).
Later on, Dante decides to punish a man stuck in the mud-ironically, the man is in the mud because of his arrogance (8.46)-and is applauded by Virgil: "the mother who carried you is truly blest!" (8.45). Oh poor Dante, his self-esteem is so low that he has to reassure himself of his greatness through the voice of a dead poet, speaking to his alter-ego. But surely it is fate that Dante should be such a worthy individual to have gone through Hell, after all, "what do you gain by butting against fate" (9.97).
By and by, Dante is mistaken for "the Duke of Athens' (12.17), also known as Theseus. Now, many a learned man has heard of Theseus, both in modern times and in Dante's time. It seems that it is such a grand honor to be thought to be Theseus that it would impossible for someone to mistake some ratty old pilgrim-poet hybrid wandering through the streets of Hell with Virgil on his shoulder to be the great Theseus; it almost the kind of compliment that only an arrogant man would give to himself in an attempt to sell his book of poems.
As Dante and Virgil continue traversing the vast landscape that is Hell, Dante ceases, for at least a few cantos, about his greatness and wonderfulness, instead actually focusing on his surroundings and not just his inner landscape.


message 25: by Maria (last edited Dec 02, 2014 08:31AM) (new)

Maria Jernigan (mariajernigan) | 113 comments Mod
Ode to the Cities

In exile, never to return home again, Dante conjures the landscapes of Italy throughout the poem, but he hones in on His city in Canto 26, where he encounters the Evil Counselors.

The canto opens with an apostrophe - addressing the city of Florence herself in "Rejoice, O Florence, since thou art so great, That over sea and land thou neatest thy wings, and Throughout Hell thy name is spread abroad!" (26. 1-3). The pollution of his city, personally speaking, takes precedence in the this opening ode. Longing for healing - for change - so when "morn is near our dreams are true" - Dante speaks for what could not happen "too soon" because "it needs to be."

When approaching the eighth ditch of Circle 8, Dante "sorrowed" once and again in recounting what he experiences in the lower regions of Hell. His initial vision is that of those that "lament the ambush of the horse, which made the door" that destroyed Troy. Recalling the Trojan War, he uses Troy ("whence issued forth Romans' gentle seed") as a metaphor for Florence in that bloodshed, corruption, and devastation stalks the city in the way the soldiers use force to devastate the armies and men of King Priam. Both places undergo a rendering - a breaking apart. Interestingly enough, upon meeting Ulysses (Odysseus), Dante notes the "two-fold" "antique flame" that carries the deceased and deemed courageous war hero. Instead of the cunning orator and warrior who crafted the idea of the horse that issued the attack on the ancient city, this Ulysses did not return to Penelope and Telemachus, but manipulated his men to embrace "the desire [...] to be experienced of the world/and of the vice and virtue of mankind." Bold in his disobedience, the stuttering flame claims that "not the fondness for my son, nor reverence for my old father, nor the due affection which joyous should have made Penelope," he leaves to serve self. Dante here breaks with the breadth of the Western tradition in introducing Ulysses as a self-serving, seeking, individual. Why put him in Hell? Because this ode is for the city, perhaps Dante warns those who protect the mantles of justice and leadership, to lead with unselfishness - act outside personal desire and want- to take into consideration the consequences and results of their course of action. For despite intentions and accomplishments, action for selfish reasons and for political ones can cause bloodshed and deposit you through the darkness of Hell.


In Dante's time, his city underwent the subterfuge of political dissonance and individual corruption. Because this experience affected him directly, he voices his concerns and fears through the exchange in this canto.

Verg, on the other hand, launches into his own nostalgic remembrance when visiting the diviners in the eight circle. He assumes narration in Canto Twenty - taking it away from Dante; however, Dante (the poet) has his own reasons for this theft - he seeks to embellish his own craftsmanship and lofty speech in comparison to Vergil's own flat and diminished style. Vergil recalls the landscape of his city with its "beauteous" lakes, "at the Alp's foot" and "thousand springs" and "verdant pastures." While his memories flood into the narrative and detract from the original intention of the text, Dante (the poet) allows him his ramblings and listens to his speech about the rivers, mountains, and lakes of his youth. Finally, returning to his subject matter, he tells us how Manto went on her own descent narrative - journey into which she founded the city of Vergil's birth. For they "built the city over" her "dead bones." The canto mentions other souls trapped and punished in this ditch but also provides a window for Vergil to revisit the places of his own past. Vergil's narrative operates on objective recall and lacks the symbolic connection of Dante's own ode to city.


message 26: by Jaela (new)

Jaela Scaife | 11 comments The Evolution of Everyman

Dante becomes overwhelmed with pity and asks to speak to the souls. They explain how "love led us to a single death (5.106) and how Dante tells Virgil "how strong desires and thoughts of sweet allure have brought them to this grievous pass instead" (113-14). He is overcome with "tears of pain and pity" thinking about how a simple love led to such harsh consequences. Dante faints "out of pity, as if dying" (5.140) reminiscing on his relationship with Beatrice, how could something so innocent be deemed this wrong.

Entering into the third circle Dante "starts to see new torments everywhere" (6.5). An unknown man calls him over asking to speak but Dante can not remember him. The man tells of Dante's city claiming to be Ciacco to which Dante is appalled by his miseries "stirring my heart till I could weep for pity" (6. 58) but he then asks what will "befall the citizens of our divided city" (6. 59). After this they continue their journey throughout the third ring when Dante asks Vergil "will this burning pain become even greater come judgement day, or stay just as it is, or will it wane?" (6.105) Still unsure of what is coming and why Virgil responds for Dante explaining "the more a thing approaches to perfection, more pleasure or more pain will come its way" (6.108).

Starting the journey to the fourth circle Dante remains calm because "the all-knowing sage then kept me from losing heart" (7.5) He is still reliant on Virgil for protection and strength. As they walk through "the mournful shore" (7.16) he narrates asking "Justice of God Above! Who stuffs it full with these new pains and punishments? How can we let guilt waste us so?" (7. 21) continuing through the feelings arise of pity again "feeling as if my heart were about to burst, Master, who are these people?" (7.36) The curiosity strikes in Dante again as he must know the criminals and their crimes surrounding him, he fears for his own life and his past actions. He asks Virgil to know more of who "She " is to which Virgil is appalled at his ignorance, "your knowledge cannot counter her, they blame her without cause but now we go down to greater misery" (7.96). As the proceed the interest in the circle intensifies for Dante "I stared, intent, at the scene before me" (7.108) yet he pushes through just staring at the disgusting picture in front of him.

Before getting onto the boat Dante's attention shifts to "something gleaming at the top of the tower" (8.4). Once again he bombards Virgil with questions asking "what does it say, what does it mean, who lit the fires?" (8.9). Just then the boat approaches and Virgil commands Dante to step in "and [Dante] complied" (8.16)


message 27: by Anne (new)

Anne Merrill | 11 comments Ode to the City: Florence

“By the love of my native land I was bestirred to gather up the scattered leaves for him, whose voice has grown too fable to be heard,” page 194.

“As Flemings from Wissant to Burges, afraid of the rising tide as it rushes in headlong […] he had made these walls, though not as high or wide, with similar design and artistry,” page 161. Comparing the structure to Florence – prideful? Does he think Florence is so cool that Hell is modeled after?

“I will leave the gall, to go where sweet fruits dwell,” page 175.

“New people and sudden wealth have brought your land so much excess and so much vanity, O Florence, the time of weeping is at hand,” page 175. Apostrophe to his bff Florence.

“Florence, rejoice at how great you have grown, beating your wings over land and sea, with fame that has spread through Hell,” page 287. Omen of warning to Florence for what is to come for their actions – ties in him talking and warning reader.


message 28: by Maria (last edited Dec 08, 2014 11:36AM) (new)

Maria Jernigan (mariajernigan) | 113 comments Mod
Recap: It's Getting Witchy

At the beginning of the 1999 film, The Blair Witch Project, a disclaimer appears on the screen saying that the students who conducted the research and shot the video have gone missing and that this is the last known footage of them. From the opening scene of the film, viewers know this will not end well; in fact, the message alerts us to what we will experience in the film: horror. Last year's release of Lone Survivor conjured similar notions not through the use of a disclaimer, but in its title and opening shots. From the onset of the powerful film, we know that over the next 121 minutes, we will watch these courageous men die - we will watch and we will grieve with them. This film will cost us - it will require each one of us to bear witness to their act of bravery - we will all be impacted by its viewing. Similar in nature, Dante opens "Canto 28" with an epic simile summoning the grotesque dismemberment and suffering of the battlefields of his day. With piles of bones, "pierced limbs" and "stumps" (28. 18-19), readers feel the shift in the narrative and prepare for the "casks" of men that will come across our sight of vision.

The first metaphor suggests the hollow vacancy of each sinner trapped in the ninth ditch of circle eight of Dante's Hall. Punished for the discord they sewed in life, each man was "split apart right from his chin" (23-24) where "raw entrails spilled out" and his "vitals visible" (25-26). The poet's awareness of his audience stems from his own opening disclaimer that "every tongue would surely fail" if asked to retell of the "blood and wounds" found in this ditch for "our powers of speech and memory are not meant to comprehend on such a scale" (4-6).

The "miserable parade" (40) begins with Mohammed whose "face" was "split from his chin right to his hair" (33). As he "sowed scandal and schism" in his life, now his is "ripped apart with reciprocity" (35-37). Dante's placement of the schismatics indicates the power they held in life and the damage they did on earth. Separating entire cities, nationalities, groups, and families, those who breed ill will, lies, and deception, serve to be punished in such a gruesome manner. The sights continue like visuals right out of The Walking Dead, for shades move with "pierced" throats, severed noses, and "headless bod[ies]" (119). Dante does little talking within this ditch; instead his narrative focuses upon the sights found within.

I read an article a couple of years ago about the failure of words to capture tragic moments. The idea here is "After Auschwitz....silence." What words could be used to truly capture such an experience? Elie Wiesel's beautifully haunting Night seek to give clarity to the Holocaust or even Zusak's The Book Thief offer us glimpses behind the reign of violence. Does either work really capture the tragedy? Almost like Toni Morrison's Beloved, for although Sethe's journey pains us - haunts us - like some tangible fog - left to burden our own sense of justice and love. Even then, her story, though powerful and moving, pales in the face of slavery and its routine. Dante seems to be suggesting a similar idea in this ditch, for his words offer a surface level glimpse at the torment that rages within the malebolge, but left to its own devices, we can conjure worse. In fact, the little interaction Dante has with these sinners showcase his recognition that words often fail in the face of something so traumatic and violent. The poet's power reigns supreme here for he truly is "Il Somma Poeta."


message 29: by Baillie (new)

Baillie | 11 comments Dante: The Spotlight's On Me, Not God!
by Baillie Woodward

The Bible is alight with descriptions of Hell, ranging from poetic to personal accounts. However, a major constant of these varying Biblical description of Hell is the image of fire. The Bible’s Hell is a furnace, complete with brimstone and a lake of fire; a place of torment for Satan, his demons, and all those who reject Christ as their Savior. Now, whether these fiery images are real or just a means of relating the torment of this wretched place is never made clear within the Bible text, but Dante certainly makes use of this Hell made of searing heat and intense torture. Up to this point, within Dante’s epic poem The Comedy, there has been little to no mention of any kind of fire in Dante’s journey through Hell-besides the name of the poem: Inferno. However, as Dante approaches the very depths of Hell itself, he finally finds the fire he’s been waiting for: “the field, with so many flames the eighth pouch was alight” (26.30-31). The spirits within this circle are confined “with a burning sheet” of fire around them (26.48), where the amount of evil-doing each has done as a false counselor in the previous lifetime accounts for how intense each person’s individual column of fire is. As always, Dante feels the need to exert his supremacy over his readers and name-drops influential people of the day and age who had already passed: namely “Ulysses and Diomed...they bemoan the ambush of the horse” (26.56,58-59). Of course, good old arrogant Dante can’t resist mentioning the Trojan Horse incident, mentioning the fact that he knows where some of the warriors ended up, and that he got to speak to them. In Dante’s attempt to once again appear to be an ordinary man, with the fiery images of Hell that all of the learned men of the time knew and still know to this day, he manages to put himself back in the spotlight, where he’s comfortable. Dante tries to turn the story back to the Bible and God with the talk of fire, but merely manages to dig his arrogant hole just a little bit deeper. I suppose Dante just can’t seem to get that spotlight off of him...not that he’s complaining, of course.


message 30: by Anne (last edited Dec 09, 2014 08:08AM) (new)

Anne Merrill | 11 comments Unlike his other cantos, Dante begins 26 with a lengthy and poetic ode to his hometown city of Florence, Italy -- which he has previously mentioned and glorified in preceding chapters, but never opened with and directly spoken to in regards to its future. Even in the depths of Hell, the author of this journey speaks of “how great [Florence has] grown” throughout the years, praising the city of its cultural advances and renaissance of life, but breaks his praise with noting that within the dark pit, he’s standing among “five of [Florence’s] own” thieves. Even in their faceless appearance, Dante is able to recognize the faults of his own, and though he adores his dear city and writes praises to it throughout the poem, he can see the evil that is lurking and will one day bring about the fall of great Florence. Dante’s writings have been directed to the greater audience since the beginning of the novel, when he states that he is a mere human just like the rest of us, but here is a prophecy that he directs at his town. For a moment, Dante narrows his audience down to a group of people, a population that he has direct and daily contact with, in hopes of bettering their future by enlightening them on what has come for those who have already passed on. A direct address holds much greater power than a general statement – these people will recognize their city and begin to look for the corrupted individuals that are leading the greater population towards this life.

Later, in his 28th canto, Dante addresses what is referred to a group of sinners in Hell that are greatly punished for the act of schism, which is basically for putting two things that do not apply to each other together and going with it. These men are separated into parts by a demon and forced to walk the circle to come together again, only to be cut apart once more. Here is where Dante addresses many leaders, including Mohammad of the Muslim religion. This, to me, is where Dante establishes his beliefs on other religions and provides his commentary on where they are sent in the afterlife. Because of their practices and beliefs in the area of Christ, the author states that since they “sowed scandal and schism in their lives,” the only fitting punishment is to constantly be pulled apart in “reciprocity.” To me, this is where Dante’s personal religion influences his writing and thoughts, because it is the direct address to religions like Muslim that take the idea of God, but twist it to fit with their customs of life. He’s using their sins to interpret what their punishment should be, as he has in previous chapters – things tie in to each other throughout Dante’s poem.

I’ve been saying this from the beginning and I will continue to stand by this through the end, but Dante’s Inferno has greatly influenced many works of literature and art through the years since its original publication. One of these, coming out in the last year, is the movie As Above, So Below and it’s approach to Hell. Throughout Inferno, Dante has kept with the constant pattern of the descent into darkness and the evil that just keeps building upon itself the further you go, down and down, with new levels and new evils that terrify even the most innocent of individuals. The same pattern is used throughout the movie, as the teams of strangers make the descent into the Catacombs of Paris and find that their only return is to continue to maneuver through the dark passages filled with unknown spirits and dangers. These two works are not only connected in their patterns, but even through allusion, which is used in As Above, So Below in the encrypted warning that is present above the opening to the small opening in the pathway that directly quotes the warning that Dante told of being present above the gates to Hell. This is where the story begins to take shape, with the world around them shifting and changing as they travel further below the surface and the ideals of the natural world begin to become distorted in the corrupted underworld. The mistakes of their past begin to materialize into obstacles that they either must overcome or face, viewing the outcome and reliving these sins as they work through the dark tunnels. Scarlett, who is the adventurous young filmmaker, enlists in the help of Parisian native Pap, who has explored the depths of the Catacombs to be her guide through these horrors. Just like Dante’s Virgil, Pap is welcome in the darkened hallows and acts as Scarlett’s guide and sense of trust as she must come to terms with the greater evil that arises. In Dante’s works, he plays on the idea of sin and how the sins of your mortal world affect the results of your sufferings in the lower – As above, so below. The movie does the same, implying it in it’s title and taking on a sense of magic, to display the idea that Hell isn’t just a burning pit off suffering – it is all your mistakes of the past on constant reply and at the highest level of intensity.


message 31: by Jaela (new)

Jaela Scaife | 11 comments All the Unheard Cries

In the novel All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Gardner, young Judith is taken and held captive for two years in her version of hell. Walking through the woods one day she sees her best friend killed right before her eyes. She openly gives in to the man who keeps her and allows him to take her back to his hidden home. She is separated from her family, her love interest, and on top of that the man holding her captive cuts her tongue out. She returns permanently mutilated to her small town where she quickly becomes known as the girl who cannot speak—an outcast.

Dante opens the scene by mocking Florence claiming, “I found five of your own among the thieves…the fact adds no great honor to your name” (26.1-2.). Once again the theme of fame is brought to light as Dante and Virgil enter the eight pouch “with so many flames” “where all the fires hide” and are approached with sinners held captive by flames. They attempt to speak, but “a voice was flung from it” (26.90). This pouch deals with the evil counselors such as Ulysses and Diomed. Ulysses goes on to speak about how he wanted to push his boundaries and “to reach those western gates” (26.113). Dante does not comment on this sinner but soon after another one comes along. It had a harder time speaking as if “transfixed with pain, with a voice that came from the victim who was sealed inside” (27.12). Dante refrains from speaking because Virgil made sure to speak for him the last time. Suddenly Virgil nudges Dante allowing him to speak up “He is of your land” (27. 33). This parallels the story All the Truth That’s In Me. Judith was viewed as an outcast and only her mom spoke to her. Once it is understood she is that same as others and is able to talk, she freely speaks. Dante asks to hear of his story to which the flame replies “I answer you without fear of infamy” (27.63). Just as the young girl did not want to be known, we see for the first time in Inferno a soul who does not strive for the same common goals. The man replies ashamed of his actions telling of his desperate attempts to reevaluate his life and how he so easily gave into temptation. Under different circumstances Judith gave in easily too, and the consequences both resulted in a living hell. Not only the place itself, but also the consequences of not being able to easily perform the common task of speaking.


message 32: by Brian (last edited Dec 08, 2014 12:38PM) (new)

Brian Akers | 9 comments Downward

In a season 3 episode of Breaking Bad, the character of Jesse Pinkman has one of the worst days of his entire life. Over the course of the episode, he loses absolutely everything and everyone that he had. His parents give up on his and seize his house, his friends refuse to help him, his partner in crime, Walter, sees it as a punishment for his stupidity, and refuses to give him his cut of money after Jesse had already been robbed of everything. Jesse ends up breaking into a junkyard in order to seek shelter in an RV that he is storing there, meanwhile falling into a port-a-john, drenching himself in waste and chemicals. All the while, he is just searching for a break, searching for some quick moment of mercy, but by some power, is unable to find any silver lining on a massive storm cloud. It all just keeps going down, keeps getting worse, building up to some sort of climactic death of spirit. Inferno is following this same path, even to the point of instead of just observation and the trouble all around Dante, trouble begins to affect him, and a happy ending is beginning to be questioned.

Cantos 26-30 are odd in the fact that they spend much more time on the other souls, those who are trapped in hell, than Dante and Virgil. It all begins with the very first line of Canto 26, when Dante opens up with a message to the city of Florence itself, saying to the city "Florence, rejoice at how great you have grown, beating your wings over land and sea, with fame that has spread through hell" (XXVI.1-3). From then on, he shifts his focus, speaking to FLorence, and realyl, the entire world above. Attempting to show individuals that everyone knows, sitting and suffering in their zone of hell. He tries to rip at the heart of those reading the comedy, almost saying to the readers "See this guy? This man you all know and love? Look at where he ended up. And you may be next". He speaks to Ulysses and Diomedes, he sees Guido da Montefeltro, he sees Bertran de Born, he even sees none other than Mohammed. For four Cantos, he explores the people in hell, rather than just the punishments that are inflicted, attempting to connect hell to the world above. There are dead who want to send messages, such as the one from Mohammed that is supposed to go to Fra Dolcino, saying "if he still wants to live before joingin me, he should fill his armory with provisions, lest the grip of snow should give to the Novarese a victory that they might otherwise find difficult to achieve" (XXVIII.56-60). These souls are still attempting to reach the world above, to help and make a mark on the world that they have left.

All the while, a tension becomes apparent in Dante. Virgil, for so long, had been an unquestionable guide and mentor, but now, a separation begins to show itself. Dante purposefully denies Virgil, going out of his way, and possibly risking escape, on hearing a conversation Virgil has warned him against. When Virgil tells him that his attention should not be on those souls, Dante says to him "If you had realized why I was so inclined to stand and look down there... perhaps you would have agreed to stay behind" (XXIX.13-15). Dante is separating himself from Virgil, starting to be stubborn and slightly rebel. If Dante continues to do this and make san enemy out of Virgil, or even loses trust, then the only way he can possibly go is downward. Dante cannot push Virgil away, or else he will have no one there to help. As is, they are continuously going further into hell, risking themselves more and more. If Dante loses Virgil, there is nothing to bring him back out.


message 33: by Rosie (new)

Rosie Gilman | 10 comments One of Dante’s continuous themes is the portrayal of the sinner’s souls as inhuman through his ironic views on sins. Previously, we have met those who committed suicide and assumed the forms of trees that whenever a part of it broke, blood and words would flow out. Also upon meeting those that suffered from lust, or as Dante puts it, ‘love,’ two lovers were forever conjoined their shapes bent to an unnatural twist. In Canto 26, Dante introduces the ‘evil counselors’ who were ensconced in “ancient fire fluttered like a flame…and a voice was flung from it” (Dante XXVI). Interestingly, the counselors form is their punishment in this particular level of Hell. The voices of the shades speak of when they “still had the form of flesh and bone” (Dante XXVII) confirming that they have become the fires that torment them for eternity. Later on in Canto 29, Dante comes across the schismatics who (carrying on with Dante’s sick irony) are tearing themselves apart, “raking their own flesh…the way a knife will scrape a carp” (Dante XXIX). The main reason that Dante portrays these poor souls in this agony, is a twisted representation on what Dante believes should (and will) happen to those who commit these sins. The tongues of the flames lick at the counselors just as their tongues guided their rulers astray. The Schismatics are literally tearing themselves apart, using their own fingernails to scrape their flesh off of their bodies, symbolic of their beliefs of separating the church. Dante is implying that when people choose to separate the church it is as detrimental to them as if they were tearing themselves apart. Dante's work is reminiscent of the infamous movie, Se7en. Based off of the seven deadly sins, a serial killer offs seven people all 'guilty' of the seven sins. While Brad Pitt's character states that all seven who were killed were innocent, Kevin Spacey's character points out that all seven violated the seven deadly sins.


message 34: by Baillie (new)

Baillie | 11 comments The Fusion: Dante the Poet and Dante the Pilgrim

Dante, being the upstanding man that he is, places himself as the main character of his vernacular work, The Comedy. In doing so, Dante must greatly skew his view of himself and of his main character, which in turn creates occasional instances where both the poet and the pilgrim fuse. Dante is very careful as to only fuse himself with his character when the fusing will help benefit his fame and his ego in a positive way. This creates insight into Dante himself; the reader learns that Dante is a broken adulterer who only finds comfort in a poem in which he stars as the heroic protagonist, where he can play pretend with his Beatrice. Also, the reader has a deeper insight into each of Dante’s actions-why he faints because of a story or feels pity for every single spirit he meets or tortures the damned souls: because he personally connects with each sin that the people have committed. Dante’s fusion allows for the reader to see how Dante feels so deeply for dead people, and to also see the theme of the entire poem.

The entire theme of Dante’s Inferno is not about Beatrice’s love for Dante, nor Dante’s love for Beatrice. The theme of Dante is that fame-not love, not pity, not guilt-is what actually allows a sinner through the gates of Heaven. A man can be a non-believer, with little need for morals to supplement his actions, but if his name is widespread throughout the world, even after his death, he can achieve a happy afterlife. The entire point of Dante’s The Comedy is to shed the light on himself and the book, because if his epic poem becomes famous and his name is mentioned throughout the ages, then surely he, an adulterer who has stepped off the path of righteousness, can go to Heaven’s pearly white gates. The consistent thread of Dante’s fusion between himself as a poet and himself as the main character in his poem serves to showcase his theme of the connection between fame and the afterlife. When Dante the pilgrim is weak and frail, frightened by the landscape, the guards, and the sinners’ torment, there is a clear detachment between pilgrim and poet. However, when Dante the pilgrim ascends to new heights of bravery, Dante the poet is right there beside him, eager to soak in the reader’s praise. If the theme was only evident in the sinners who beg for Dante to remind the world of them, then it would become overshadowed by lesser themes. With Dante’s arrogant way of using himself to show the theme, the thread helps to clearly push the theme of fame equals afterlife into the spotlight, where Dante gladly shares the light.


message 35: by Rosie (last edited Dec 09, 2014 08:50AM) (new)

Rosie Gilman | 10 comments SUPREMACY OF DIVINE WILL

The thread of Divine Will connects to Beatrice's character and her command which Virgil references throughout the entire journey. Beatrice was the one who sent him, she being from Heaven and Virgil revering her looks as well as her commands, obeys to guide Dante through the levels of Hell, stating "so I have come to you as was her will." (Dante 2. 118) Upon encountering different guards or shades in the various circles of Hell, Virgil almost never fails to state that what they are doing has been decreed from above - putting Beatrice's commands on par with God's own. However, Virgil does not ignore God, often pointing out several parts of Hell's systems that were designed by God, stating that "his rule is everywhere." (Dante 1. 125-126) Interestingly, Virgil appears to doubt Beatrice's command only once, Dante himself comments that Virgil's "speech...reversed the first impression he had made" (Dante 9. 7-9) about Beatrice's divine will. For the rest of the book, Virgil continues to cite Beatrice's command and gives light to God's system, but never appears to doubt a command from above again. Finally, at the end of the book, Dante and Virgil "entered on that hidden road to find [their] way once more into the world of light." (Dante 34. 133-134) Virgil completed the task set before him in a command by Beatrice, which has led Virgil throughout the circles of hell.

The function of the thread bleeds into its own significance, which ties back into Dante's version of Love. Outside of Hell, Dante loved Beatrice, and he still does, which is what led Beatrice to send Virgil (out of love) to him. In turn, Dante's love and reverence for Virgil translates into an interesting bromance.


message 36: by Brian (new)

Brian Akers | 9 comments From There We Came Outside and Saw the Stars

Throughout the first part of Dante's epic Divine Comedy, he explores the concepts of the hero's descent, as well as the physical and mental tole that it can take on a man. The story of the epic is the absolute definition of a descent tale, as Dante is literally making his way to the lowest part of hell. With each ring, he faces a greater darkness, a greater suffering, and continues to draw closer to the ultimate human fate, the punishment of Judas Iscariot by the hand of Satan himself. Every descent story since the release of Inferno has just been a different or less literal version of poem, as it has forever engrained itself as the very definition and archetypal structure of the descent. Dante's journey tested him, and brought him face-to-face with the lowest of the low, the epitemy of evil, the fallen angel Luscifer. Inferno follows the path of continuous decay and destruction of both character and world, as Dante's spirit and self begins to be darkened and tainted by the world he his exploring, a world which he is watching get worse and more terrifying with every step that he takes.

Through all of this decay and evil, through the blood and the fire and the ice, the story of Inferno is, at its heart, a redemption story. Dante begins the story as a broken man, a man with no path and a lost love, a love who wants to reunite, and protect him from entering the eternity of pain that he faces. As Dante goes through hell, he is beaten and battered, and comes out of the other side with scars and nightmares, but he also comes out a different man. The progression through hell, all of it was for Dante to see his future, and to see the depths of the universe itself. As he makes his way through and collects the blood and tears of hell, he becomes a different man, the one who will be able to reach past hell and make his way toward heaven. The entire poem is a continuous descent to the very domain of Satan, beating down Dante into submission, as he attmepts to keep hold of Virgil so as not to be lost in the eternal pit. But in the final pages, in the very end of this journey, Dante joins Virgil on the back of Luscifer as they make their way out of the furthest depths, and bring themselves back up, so as to begin the path of ascent. Dante has suffered through hell, and made it all the way through so that he could conquer Satan himself and ride upward towards heaven. The entire poem is a descent, so the cartharsis and joy of the ascent can be the most powerful moment of Dante's entire tale. He is finally on his way to Beatrice.


message 37: by Anne (last edited Dec 10, 2014 12:51PM) (new)

Anne Merrill | 11 comments Home Sweet Home

There’s no place like home; there’s nothing more familiar than the hands that knocked you down only to later raise you up, the streets that weave together and lead you back to safety, or simply, just everything that you have ever known. The city that you call home holds a piece of your being that nothing else can quite fit into, and no matter the evils that may lurk in the dark shadows, you will always be filled with a sense of pride for that one place that played a background role in the story of your lifetime. Throughout his narration of his epic journey through the depths of Hell, Italian poet Dante Alighieri pays homage to the great city of Florence, Italy and the success that has come to it in the years – however, though he feels a strong loyalty and admiration for his home, Dante’s praise of the city is followed by the stern warnings of what is to come if the corruptive nature of man continues its reign. This, in his own poetic sense, is his warning to men of their sinful, prideful, and corrupt actions and where those sins will lead them in immortality. He ties in the city through subtle hints, stating that at one location in the rings, he recognized the “similar design and artistry” of the architecture, narrating his appreciation for the buildings found in Florence, but also brings about a picturization of the familiarity and the prominence of Florentine influence in the underworld (161). Comparing the architecture of Hell to that of his own city, Dante establishes the presence of something that is known and common to many, showing the reality of Hell and any individuals ability to be trapped there. Dante, introducing the souls that inhabit Hell, recognize the roles that many of them used to have in their lifetime -- many of them being men he had direct contact with in Florence, but also famous poets and leaders of the city, once again connecting the history of Florence to the present. These souls know their mistakes and warn Dante to “be sure to speak of [them]” to the living if he ever has the chance to “gaze upon the lovely stars again” because they, too, have a sense of pride for the city of Florence and want to prevent others from following in their sinful footsteps (175). In a way, Dante’s Florence is a form of redemption, because through his journey and encounters within, it allows him to have a destination that rests on the other side of sin and where he can translate his adventures into stories to share with others in hopes of alerting them their fatal mistakes by creating a sense of familiarity that they may recognize.

Dante’s whole descent is written for the common man, as Dante is merely one himself, and by adding a location that holds so much of him, it brings in yet another way that one may relate to him in the mistakes of their own city. In the beginning of Canto 26, Dante starts with an ode to his city, calling them to “rejoice at how great [they] have grown,” but to be mindful of that newfound power, because it has sparked a “flame that has spread through Hell (175).” He wants them to acknowledge their rise, because the city is so precious to him, but he sees that the beauty of their power is what corrupts the root nature of the city and engulfs it in sinful flame. Though it is a time to be proud, he reminds them that “new people and sudden wealth” have brought about an “excess and so much vanity” to the once simplistically beautiful city (175). Dante’s connection to Florence helps convey the idea that corrupt power truly does corrupt absolutely, as John Dalberg put it many years after our poet, because he’s showing his own leaders and friends that have allowed their souls to become twisted by their own desires of lust, power, and control.


message 38: by Jaela (new)

Jaela Scaife | 11 comments Forgotten Consequences


Throughout The Divine Comedy Inferno, the author Dante discloses his own story as a Poet to an audience in order to achieve the primary desire of forgiveness. As the story opens, the reader gains insight on the current status of Dante as a lost, frightened pilgrim entering the gates of Hell. Starting out, Dante relies on his mentor Virgil for strength and reassurance as they trek through the upper levels of hell. Over and over again curiosity strikes Dante inclining him to ask the souls what horrible actions they executed in order to receive such ghastly punishments. In the second circle of lust Dante encounters an unknown soul who reveals himself as Ciacco, a man who was well respected in his Florentine society yet allowed sin to overtake him. Dante hears Ciacco’s story and immediately becomes overwhelmed with pity and grief turning to Virgil in desperation that someday hope will be provided for these poor souls. The souls long to be remembered and constantly ask Dante to tell others of their stories when he returns to Earth. The souls in the upper levels don’t view themselves as people who deserve to be in Hell, yet the crimes they committed still landed them there. Dante starts to fear for his own life as he views the harsh sufferings of those in Hell. Continuing through Dante faces many other souls whose stories cause him to weep and faint, and also depend on Virgil. However, as Dante goes deeper he slowly begins to find a true understanding of himself restoring his lost confidence. In the final level of Hell Dante faces Bocca, a soul he accidentally kicked in the head. After arguing Dante grabs Bocca’s hair and starts ripping it out of his head. He leaves by exclaiming he will tell everyone of Bocca’s story, making him famous among the living. By doing this Dante reveals the difference in souls of upper and lower Hell. In lower Hell the crimes, and punishments, are unbearable, yet Dante plans to tell people of the wicked souls encountered there. He then continues to the next zone in the final level, confronted by Fra Alberigo, who begs Dante to remove the ice from his face. At this moment Dante has completed his change as he boldly rejects Fra and feels no pity towards him based on the betrayal he has committed.
Throughout this journey Dante overcomes man’s descent into sin in order to gain the light of redemption, which time and time again repeats itself. From the moment he step foot into the dark woods of Hell, Dante showed signs of weakness and fear, yet through the treacherous pilgrimage he is forced to recognize his own character and how to show strength again. Dante the Poet uses much irony when he writes about Dante the Pilgrim in the upper levels of hell crying and weeping for the souls and their punishments. The pilgrim still views the sins as small, and does not understand why the consequences must remain so harsh for those. Even the souls long to be forgiven and remembered. However, pushing through all nine levels and forcing himself to see true horror creates a stronghold inside of him. The true realization that man must first go through struggles in order to achieve greatness comes alive inside of Dante. This allows him to overcome his own fears, standing up to appalling creatures and obstacles along the way. Dante gains his freedom through Hell by gaining understanding that the wrong done may not always be so easily forgiven.


message 39: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Hansard Perfect Contrapasso

Contrapasso means a soul’s punishment in Hell corresponds with the sin he committed on earth. In Limbo, souls lived a life that was neither sinful nor good, so they were fated to live an equally mediocre afterlife in Hell, not suffering anything apart from the lack of God’s presence and utter boredom. The Lustful in the second circle sought relentless pleasure and stimulation when they lived, and are tortured in Hell by being blown about by an endless storm. The Sullen in the fifth circle were obsessed with negativity, so they now lie brooding underneath a filthy river, perfectly fitting for those obsessed with morose thoughts. In the eighth circle, souls that brought schism and scandals to society now are split from chin to groin, healed, and split again. False prophets and diviners now had heads contorted backwards, preventing them from seeing forward.

Deuteronomy 32:4 says “[God] is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.” Dante integrates the perfect contrapasso in the levels of hell to illustrate that God’s justice is divine and complete. There are different levels of sin based the extent it contradicts from God’s laws. For example, the corrupt politicians would be thrown in a deeper circle than the lustful. Even the heretics had different intensities of their eternal punishment. Each soul was locked in a different furnace with varying temperatures according to how severe his heresy was.


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