It is established as one of the central texts within Western literature and is arguably the greatest poem of the Middle Ages. Each section is divided into rigid subsections: Though not a flat-earther, he thought that all land is concentrated in the Northern Hemisphere, with the South covered in water. The narrator—presumably Dante himself—explores the three spaces, led by various guides, in a sort of spiritual journey to fulfillment.
These punishments, however, are rarely simple or obvious and are usually metaphorically rather than literally related to their respective sins.
As is to be expected with Dante alighieri and his biased inferno a complicated concept, many interpretations of this interplay between sin and punishment have been proposed.
These scholars firmly believe that Dante wanted only to properly apply the pre-established standard of justice to his interpretation of hell. Another camp, however, contends that Dante is attempting to redefine completely the popular image of hell.
Pearl argues that Dante is breaking away from the popular notion that the severity of a sin is determined by the damage done to society, suggesting instead that a sin is more or less severe because it is more or less offensive to God, not to man or rather, that each punishment derives from the offensiveness of the sin itself, rather than the suffering of its victims.
There are, of course, problems with both of these approaches. In a work so grounded in biblical history, it seems strange to assume that Dante would completely reject it in favor of his own invention.
At the same time, the contrapasso is surely much more complex than a simple exchange of blows between man and God, as Durling and Martinez claim. Instead, I propose a middle ground between these two claims: Dante, proud as he may be, seems too religious to stray very far from the biblical laws of retaliation.
All sinners go to be judged before Minos, who, in lieu of God who will finalize all punishments on the Judgment Daydamns each soul to its respective punishment. This is seen again in Canto 28, where schismatics of state, religion, and family all seem to be bound to the same punishment.
And yet, complications arise as one reads a little deeper. This immediately brings us back to the image of Dante, wandering off the straight path and slowly veering towards the valley. In this light, we see that Hell is not simply a repository where God flings the unwanted souls, as a strict theologian of the time may have suggested, but rather it is only the end of all the wrong paths that man can take.
At the same time, he is artistically bound by the source material, and since he cannot change the Bible, he is forced to add to it. We can see that Hell acts as the place where all evil souls naturally go.
In this light, Minos ceases to be a judge and becomes more of a directory, an information booth showing souls to their proper resting places. The demons also shift and no longer seem to punish the souls out of anger or bloodlust, but simply because that is the right and natural thing to do given the circumstances.
More importantly, this interpretation points out the fact that all sinners in a circle are not given the same punishment. Each sinner suffers a different severity based on his or her unique sins: That is, strong or weak or proud souls all have different levels of punishment in Hell because they all led different lives and therefore find themselves at different ends.
This, however, is an oversimplification. More often than not, however, the punishment is much more complex than either of these, as can be seen in the punishment for gluttons in the third Circle. This punishment could be interpreted as a storm meant to overwhelm those who craved stimulus in life, or as a storm obscuring those who hungered for fame, or the storm could be seen as an oppressive force holding the fat to the ground, or even as a fecal metaphor.
In trying to prove that Dante wanted to rewrite religion to his own liking, Pearl is choosing only those parts of Inferno that match his hypothesis, ignoring the rest and, ironically, rewriting the Inferno to his own liking.
While these mythological figures are taken from many sources and fill many roles, Dante treats them all similarly; in each case, Dante generally sticks to the canonical facts but also expands upon them.
Dante makes a point of not contradicting what has already been written about these characters, but he does seem to find their stories incomplete and unclear, so he finishes them for us. Dante does not reinvent or change the classic stories but only augments them as is necessary. Similarly, Dante is not trying to consciously re-write the biblical definition of justice, as Pearl implies; nor is he simply going along with the status quo for the sake of political correctness.
Rather than attempting to redefine hell, Dante is trying to explain hell, to take an abstract concept and make it tactile, and to make it known to the common man. That is why Dante wrote in the vernacular.
Although most people of the time probably knew the Bible fairly well, study of the Bible was still a luxury afforded to the few who could afford the time. In addition, the current practices such as speaking mass entirely in Latin further distanced the common citizen from a deep understanding of the Bible.
Therefore, Dante explains hell in the vernacular, attempting to expound upon the traditional notions, but inevitably adding his own flare to his creation. Toward this purpose, Dante has crafted a series of contrapassos so complex that they will slightly change based on the reader, who will interpret the punishment as it is clearest to him or her.
In this sense, Dante does not want to redefine justice, but only to make his religion tangible to the average person, to be to the reader as Virgil is to the Pilgrim: Works Cited Alighieri, Dante.
The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri: Durling, Robert, and Ronald Martinez. Inferno, The Cambridge Companion to Dante, 2nd ed. Appointments can be booked online.
WR Transfer Credit Did you take or are you planning to take a writing class at another school?Question: "Is The Divine Comedy / Dante's Inferno a biblically accurate description of heaven and hell?" Answer: Written by Dante Alighieri between and , The Divine Comedy is widely considered the central epic poem of Italian literature.
A brilliantly written allegory, filled with symbolism. In The Inferno of Dante Alighieri, nine circles make up Hell; Circle one being the least punishment, to Circle nine being the greatest punishment. Dante Alighieri’s Dante’s Inferno: Summary & Analysis. Dante Alighieri, one of the greatest poets of the Middle Ages, was born in Florence, Italy on June 5, He was born to a middle-class Florentine family.
At an early age he began to write poetry and became fascinated with lyrics. During his adolescence, Dante fell in love with a. Dante Alighieri. Thirty-five years old at the beginning of the story, Dante—the character as opposed to the poet—has lost his way on the “true path” of life; in other words, sin has obstructed his path to God.
Dante Alighieri was an Italian Medieval poet, moral philosopher, political thinker, and author of the poetic trilogy, The Divine Comedy, whose first part lends its name to Dan Brown’s novel Inferno. A summary of Cantos III–IV in Dante Alighieri's Inferno. Learn exactly what happened in this chapter, scene, or section of Inferno and what it means.
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