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RebeccaNey - 1 when he wants to abandon his journey as...

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The line “In our past is our future” unites two ostensibly different themes, reason and faith, in Dante’s Inferno. Led by Virgil through the levels of hell, Dante is greeted by the renowned epic poets, Homer, Horace, Ovid, and Lucan. They honor Dante as they “made [him] one of their band, so [he] was sixth among so much wisdom” (Canto 4, ln. 101-102). Their chronological order further emphasizes Dante’s place in history as one of these poets just as a teacher passes on to a student and a father to a son. This moment places Dante in the position of intellectual glory. Virgil is an allegory for human reason, and as Dante follows him and is elevated to the status of these five poets, Dante becomes part of such wisdom, intellect, and reason. Reason typically challenges faith, yet Dante chose poets as opposed to the warriors and philosophers in Canto 4 because poets are able to reconcile the two. Dante, however, is in the process of achieving that state. He loses faith in the beginning of Canto
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Unformatted text preview: 1 when he wants to abandon his journey as reason tells him he cannot surpass the beast. Additionally, in Canto 9 Dante’s despair and fear undermines his faith. By losing faith and hope, death would become immediate with Medusa whereas unquestioned faith results in Christ, he who comes. The three Furies are Dante’s fear externalized in a perversion of the three divine beings, Lucy, Mary, and Beatrice who saved Dante in the beginning of his tale. Dante immortalized Beatrice in The Vita Nuova by keeping his faith in her as a divine inspiration, which ultimately would bring him to salvation. In Dante’s historical past lies his future of continuing the line of sagacious epic poets, and in his emotional past with Beatrice lies his future of divine salvation. As Dante builds his identity through this pilgrimage, the inferno is a channel in which his past experiences will form his future identity of a poet to unite reason and faith....
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This note was uploaded on 10/16/2011 for the course ITAL 333 taught by Professor Brownlee during the Spring '10 term at UPenn.

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