Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Presentation is loading. Please wait.

Dante: The Divine Comedy

Similar presentations

Presentation on theme: "Dante: The Divine Comedy"— Presentation transcript:

1 Dante: The Divine Comedy

2 Dante Alighieri: His Life & Times

3 Dante: The Political Background
Two entities battled for control of Italy: The Holy Roman Empire The Papacy/Papal States

4 Ahi, Costantin, di quanto mal fu matre...
The Donation of Constantine: A forged document of Emperor Constantine the Great (4th c. AD), by which large privileges and rich possessions were conferred on the pope (Sylvester I) and the Roman Church. It first appears during the Middle Ages and is used by the papacy to claim temporal power in Italy, especially against the advances of the Holy Roman Empire.

5 Strife in Florence Guelphs: Supporters of Florentine independence from the Holy Roman Empire Ghibellines: Noble families who supported the Holy Roman Empire’s interests in Northern Italy. In Florence, the Guelphs triumphed; Dante was a Florentine Guelph. His political views later in life, however, would dispose him to favor the Holy Roman Empire in its opposition to a grasping papacy.

6 In about the year 1300, the Florentine Guelphs splintered into Blacks and Whites, with the White Guelphs gradually feeling that the papacy, not the Holy Roman Empire, was the greater threat to Italy. Dante was one of these White Guelphs who strongly opposed papal intervention in secular affairs. In 1302, the Black Guelphs exiled Dante while he was away on a diplomatic mission. Dante never returned to Florence, and the city’s relationship to his legacy is a complicated one. Dante’s politics figure prominently in the Divine Comedy, and his exile can be discerned in the themes of wandering and searching for a home. Dante the Pilgrim vs. Dante the Poet Dante in Exile

7 The mosaic ceiling of the Baptistry in Florence.



10 Trinitarian Imagery in the Divine Comedy
3 canticles: Inferno, Purgatorio, Paradiso Inferno: 1 introductory canto and 33 Inferno cantos proper. Purgatorio: 33 cantos. Paradiso: 33 cantos. Terza rima: The interlocking rhyme scheme of the Divine Comedy: aba bcb, cdc, etc. 11 syllables per line; 3 lines in a tercet=33 syllables. Many other multiples of 3 (e.g., 9 circles of Hell). A B C D E

11 Dante & Structure: Fearful and Sacred Symmetry


13 Fictional Time and the Role of Prophecy
Dante probably began the Divine Comedy around 1307 and worked on it until his death in 1321. However, he sets his Divine Comedy during Easter Week in the year 1300. CQ: Why might Dante have chosen to set the Divine Comedy during Easter Week? Easter week reinforces the Christian treatment of death and renewal. Dante is able to “prophesy” events to which he already knows the outcome; he and other characters thus seem to have prophetic power in the Divine Comedy. A Divine Comedy timeline: Good Friday: Dante’s descent into the Inferno Dawn, Easter Sunday: Dante arrives at Mt. Purgatory. He spends 3 nights there. Noon Wednesday of Easter Week: Dante ascends into Paradise.

14 Dante dies in Ravenna

15 Dante Alighieri The Divine Comedy: Inferno

16 Inferno 1 Dante is 35 and is lost.
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita mi ritrovai per una selva oscura che le diritta via era smarrita Dante is 35 and is lost. The allegory of the "selva oscura"; temptation in the wilderness.

17 Dante’s Beasts: Symbolism of Sin
Leopard=Lust Lion=Pride Wolf=Covetousness Leopard=Fraud Lion=Violence Wolf=Incontinence Jeremiah 5:5 I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the LORD, [and] the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, [and] burst the bonds. Jeremiah 5:6 Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, [and] a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, [and] their backslidings are increased.

18 Dante’s Hound: Political Prophecy in the Divine Comedy
Dante desperately hoped for a unifier/redeemer of Italy to restore the land to the kind of unity it enjoyed during the Roman Empire. Cangrande della Scala: Powerful Ghibelline from Verona and patron/protector of Dante.

19 Cantos 1 & 2: Virgil CQ: Why do you think Dante made this pre-Christian writer his guide through the Inferno?

20 Dante’s attitude towards the Roman Empire
Aeneas founded Rome, and Rome (under Augustus) subdued the Mediterranean world so that Christ could be born during an auspicious age (the Pax Romana). Moreover, Rome became the seat of the Church. Dante’s idea is that Aeneas and Augustus Caesar were unwittingly used by God for sacred purposes. Dante longs for the time when Italy can be unified again; see 2.10 ff.

21 “Io non Enea, io non Paulo sono…”
“But I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord: I know a man in Christ fourteen years ago (whether in the body, I know not; or out of the body, I know not, God knoweth) snatched up in this manner to the third heaven: and I know such a man, whether in the body or out of the body I know not, God knoweth; how that he was snatched up into Paradise and heard secret words which it is not lawful for men to speak; on behalf of such a one will I glory; but on mine own behalf I will not glory, save in my infirmities.”—2 Cor. 12:1-5. See also the fourth-century apocryphal Visio Pauli, section 31 ff.

22 Canto 2: Beatrice Note the Trinitarian imagery; the three ladies.
Dante was born in Florence in 1265, meets Beatrice Portinari in 1274. Beatrice (1266–1290) dies fairly young at the age of 25. BVM Lucia Beatrice Virgil

23 Images of Florence… The small church where Dante’s Beatrice is buried. Dante undoubtedly walked this street and spent time here.

24 Dante’s Hell and the Hierarchy of Sin

25 Canto 3: Ante-Inferno. "Abandon every hope . . . ."
The entrance to Hell. "The good of the intellect" and Dante’s hierarchy of sin. Ante-Inferno. Be ye not lukewarm!

26 He who made the great refusal: Celestine V? Pilate?
The "hermit pope” Celestine V. The Legend of Boniface VIII’s trick. “All sorts of rumors followed [Celestine V ‘s] resignation. [Celestine] had built himself a hut in the Vatican where he could live like a hermit. Supposedly [Boniface VIII] thrust a reed through the wall of the hut and pretended he was the voice of God ordering Celestine to resign. Since his mind was undecided as to his proper course, this trick is said to have convinced him.” Charon and the epic simile of the leaves, ff.

27 Canto 4: Limbo, the first circle
"And if they lived before Christianity, They did not worship God in fitting ways; And of such spirits I myself am one. For these defects, and for no other evil, We now are lost and punished just with this: We have no hope and yet we live in longing." Wailing babies in Hell? A new, more grace-filled vision: The “virtuous pagans” Homer, Horace, Ovid, Lucan, Virgil. CQ: How do these poets receive Dante? How does Dante seem to view himself here?

28 Roll Call of Virtuous Pagans
Greco-Roman literary heroes. Note that Muslims Saladin, Avicenna, and Averroes are in Limbo. Avicenna: Arab physician and commentator on Aristotle. Averroes: Another Arab commentator on Aristotle. Saladin: Great Muslim opponent of Christian crusading forces. CQ: What does the presence of these men amid the virtuous pagans suggest about Dante’s vision of Hell and those who populate it?

29 The Harrowing of Hell; 4.52 ff.
The Harrowing of Hell, from the Tiberius Psalter (mid 11th c.). Possibly suggested by 1 Peter 3:18-20: "18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: 19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah " A tradition developed that during the three days between Christ’s Crucifixion and Resurrection, Christ descended into Hell, bound Satan, and freed the souls of the virtuous who died before Christ could effect their redemption.

30 “He carried off the shade of our first father…”
San Marco Anastasis, Venice

31 Inferno 5: The Lustful Minos, Judge of Hell.
5.22 ff.; God’s presence even in Hell. Symbolic Retribution: The notion that the punishment for various sins somehow relates to the sin itself in Dante’s Inferno. This concept is also called contrappasso. CQ: How does this concept operate in this circle of Hell? Dido, Helen, Cleopatra. CQ: Why isn’t Dido in the circle of the suicides (Seventh circle; Canto XIII; the Violent Against Themselves)? Paolo & Francesca; ff.; Francesca's courtly speech; their adultery. Dante’s palinode?

32 Michelangelo and Biagio da Cesena
Minos: A later reflex Michelangelo and Biagio da Cesena Biagio criticized the nudity in Michelangelo's art, so Michelangelo painted him in the Sistine Chapel as a foolish, ass-eared Minos with a serpent gnawing at his genitals!

33 Paolo & Francesca in the Arts
Anselm Feuerbach J. Ingres

34 Paolo & Francesca in the Arts
Amos Cassioli Marie-Phillippe Coupin de la Couperie

35 Paolo & Francesca in the Arts
Alessandro Kokocinski; Ary Scheffer

36 Silent Film: L'Inferno - Giuseppe de Liguoro (1911)

37 Paolo & Francesca “These young lovers are here because they committed adultery, and the winds that blow them about are an infernal version of the gusts of desire that drove them in life. But if we stop here we will make the same mistake as does the pilgrim Dante, who feels for them exactly the wrong sort of pity. For Francesca’s punishment is not to whirl about endlessly, locked in the arms of her beloved: after all, is that really a punishment? No, her punishment is to repeat throughout eternity the act of seduction that brought about her damnation; and Paolo’s punishment is to watch her as she works her wiles. It is no accident that in the conversation with Dante and Virgil Paolo says not a word but only sobs; indeed, Francesca refers to him only once, with the contemptuous demonstrative pronoun questi, ‘this one, who never shall be parted from me.’ And whom does Francesca seduce? After listening to her tell her carefully crafted tale of love—one that incorporates within it lines from the kind of lyric poetry that Dante himself had written as a youth—Dante falls to the ground with pity. Indeed, his description is painfully apt: ‘And then I fell as a dead body falls’—an act all too appropriate for a man in Hell.”

38 Paolo & Francesca “Nor does Francesca’s power stop at Dante, for it has worked its magic on generations of readers. The challenge of this scene is to remember its deep significance—that this woman is in Hell, that she is currently repeating the very sin that put her there—while she does everything in her power to make you forget.”—NAWM Headnote

39 Inferno 19: The Simonists
Simony: The buying and selling of church offices or any other spiritual good. Acts 8:9-24 But there was a certain man, called Simon, which beforetime in the same city used sorcery, and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one: ….. And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and [in] the bond of iniquity.

40 Inferno 19: The Simonists
Along the sides and down along the bottom, I saw that livid rock was perforated: The openings were all one width and round. They did not seem to me less broad or more Than those that in my handsome San Giovanni Were made to serve as basins for baptizing Pope Nicholas III. Prediction of Boniface VIII’s damnation. Dante’s respect for the papal office: ff. The Donation of Constantine: Dante’s heart begins to harden, as it should.

41 Clement V & the “Babylonian Captivity”
“Babylonian Captivity”: In Church history, the Babylonian Captivity or “Avignon Papacy” was the period from 1305 to 1378 during which the Pope lived in Avignon (now a part of France) rather than in Rome. For a time, two popes sat in Avignon and Rome—clearly a problem and sometimes called the “the "Western schism.”--modified from Wiki, which you should never cite 

42 The Papal Palace at Avignon

43 The 4 Zones of Hell’s Last circle: treachery
Caina: Betrayers of kin. Antenora: Betrayers of country. (Ugolino) Ptolomea: Betrayers of guests. (Fra Alberigo; Branca Doria) Judecca: Betrayers of lords. (Judas, Cassius, Brutus)

44 Inferno 33: The treacherous to country: Count Ugolino and Archbishop Ruggieri
“Ugolino was a Ghibelline who sought to save Pisa from Guelph threats by negotiating with Guelph cities and giving three castles to them--an action that his enemies regarded as a kind of betrayal. Ugolino later feuded with some Guelph powers in Pisa and was exiled. According to one story, the Ghibelline Archbishop Ruggieri invited Ugolino back to Pisa and offered to broker a reconciliation. Upon Ugolino’s return, however, the Archbishop betrayed Ugolino, imprisoning him together with his sons and his grandsons. For nine months they were kept in the tower of the Gualandi, and in March 1289 the Archbishop ordered the tower locked up and the keys thrown into the river.” --Adapted from notes by Allen Mandelbaum Ugolino; Rodin 1881. Hannibal (2001)


46 Now blind, I started groping over each;
And after they were dead, I called them for Two days; then fasting had more force than grief

47 Inferno 33: The treacherous to guests
Fra Alberigo: A Friar who killed his kin at a banquet. Dante tricks him into telling his story ; 147. ff. The demonic possession of those treacherous to others. CQ: Compare and contrast Dante’s treatment of Fra Alberigo with that of Francesca in canto V.

48 Inferno 34: Judecca: The treacherous to lords and benefactors
Dis, Satan, Lucifer Parody of Trinitarian imagery. Judas: Betrayer of Christ. Brutus: Betrayer of the Roman Empire as the assassin of Julius Caesar. Cassius: Another assassin of Julius Caesar.

49 Inferno 34: Death, Burial, and Resurrection
Dante begins his journey into the Inferno on Good Friday, 1300 and emerges on Easter morning. The time reflects a period of personal growth as it reflects the events of the Harrowing. Mount Purgatory formed from the displacement of earth when Lucifer fell from Heaven. The problem of only reading the Inferno.

50 From Inferno to Purgatorio . . . .
My guide and I came on that hidden road To make our way back into the bright world; And with no care for any rest, we climbed— He first, I following—until I saw, Through a round opening, some of those things Of beauty Heaven bears. It was from there That we emerged, to see—once more—the stars. Silent Film in Full:

51 The Structure of Purgatory
NOTE: We are skipping Purgatorio readings. Dante must climb the mountain of Purgatory in order to be able to ascend through the spheres of Paradise. The Structure of Purgatory


53 The Structure of Paradise
Paradiso: The canticle of the ineffable. The Ptolemaic Universe and the structure of Paradise

54 Paradiso 33: Dante’s Mystical Vision of God
Bernard of Clairvaux and his Song of Marian Paradoxes. Remember Mary’s intercessory role from the Inferno. Trinitarian imagery continued. Circular motion; eternity and perfection. Love as the impetus of all things. The vision and “lactation” of St. Bernard.

55 Paradiso and the Medieval Idea of Love
“For Dante, as for medieval philosophy generally, the natural inclination of every human being is love, a movement toward something outside the self. The natural and proper object of love is God, either directly or as mediated through the created world. Sin occurs when love is immoderately directed to the wrong object, when the creature (including the self) is loved not for but instead of the Creator.” --Allen Mandelbaum and Lee Patterson “This is a classic statement of the medieval idea that love is the principle of harmony in the universe. Divine love established and governs the changing and potentially discordant universe; it should also govern the microcosm, man, in his relations with others.”—Richard Green Dante’s Divine Comedy: A love story.

56 Dante The Divine Comedy

Download ppt "Dante: The Divine Comedy"

Similar presentations

Ads by Google