Literary Historical Criticism and Dante

Literary Historical Criticism and Dante - Literary...

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Literary Historical Criticism and Dante’s Inferno Midway upon the journey of our life I found myself within a forest dark, For the straightforward path had been lost. (Canto I, lines 1-3, page 3) The Divine Comedy , written in the early 14 th century by Dante Alighieri, is a poem that is divided into three books; Inferno , Purgatory , and Paradise (Lazzari 109). Basically, is an epic poem of sorts in which Dante, self proclaimed “Pilgrim” in The Divine Comedy , and his guide Virgil, the Latin poet of Aeneid , travel through the three regions of Hell (Lazzari 110). It is not a “comedy” in the sense that the poem is humorous or comical, because Dante used the word “comedy” in the traditional sense of a story that starts at a very low point and ends with absolution or at a very high point (Moss 174). Dante’s Inferno has a very clear and apparent structure about how Hell looks and where certain types of people belong. His Hell is basically nine concentric circles beginning with the Gates of Hell and the smallest of sinners, and ending with the greatest sins of all. The levels correspond to Christianity’s seven deadly sins of lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy, and pride (Lazzari 110). The first circle is Limbo, where the unbaptized people go when they die. Virgil resides in this circle because he was a pagan and lived before Jesus Christ was born (Moss 178). Circle two is for sins of carnality or lust. Circle three is for the gluttons, any sins associated with overeating and over drinking. Circle four is the greedy and/or wasteful people. The fifth circle is made up of the wrathful or angry, as well as sloth. After this circle, Virgil and the Pilgrim go into “lower Hell” and the City of Dis, which separates the two sections. Heretics and anyone who was in opposition to Christian morals and values belongs in the sixth circle. Circle seven
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disciplines three groups of people; those that were violent against others, those that committed suicide, and the people who were violent against G-d, nature, and art. Circle eight is reserved for those who were involved in fraud. This circle is separated into ten “evil ditches” where each one is filled with; panderers and seducers, flatterers, sorcerers and witches, deceivers, those who took part in simony, hypocrites, thos who promote discord, falsifiers, and bad counselors. This leads then into Cocytus, the frozen lake, which holds those guilty of the worst sinners guilty of treachery to; family, country, guests, or to lord or patron (Lazzari 110). These four sections are named respectively, Caina (after Cain), Antenora (after Antenor the warrior of the Trojans), Ptolomea, and Giudecca (after Judas who was disloyal to Christ) (Turner 141). Basically, Dante’s system relies on the fact that every sinner is being punished physically in a way that corresponds to their particular crime. Dante’s Inferno
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Literary Historical Criticism and Dante - Literary...

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