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Love and suffering in the inferno by dante alighieri and the aeneid by virgil

Dante Alighieri was an epic poet who had grown out of a classical, pagan past into a pre-Renaissance Christian. While Dante was not familiar with the actual texts of Homer or other ancient Greeks, he was versed in their literature having discovered them through his own Italian predecessors, Virgil, Statius, Horace, and Latin translations of Aristotle and his Christian student Thomas Aquinas.

With the Roman poet Virgil as his guide, Dante is able to traverse Hell and Purgatory; Dante recognizes Virgil as the image of Human Wisdom or rationality, not to mention the author of the Aeneid.

Dante also considered Virgil to have anticipated the coming of Christ Purgatory 70-2. Therefore, with Virgil as both his literary and rational guide and Beatrice as his beatific and heavenly inspiration, Dante is able to write his allegorical pilgrimage through Hell and the cosmos: Yet along the path to salvation, Dante must purge himself of his own sinful nature, which will eventually include the repudiation of his own self.

Dante the Pilgrim

This journey begins in Hell where Dante witnesses the stories and the suffering of many sinners, some of which he empathizes with, and most of which he pities. Canto II and Canto V both have love for their main themes. Beatrice calls on wisdom to move Dante away for the deleterious effects of a Galleot — who better than Virgil? This emotional response is soon better controlled by the pilgrim Dante as he travels farther into Hell. The latter listens as Ulysses tells of his fraud — a fraud based upon the desire to know.

Love and suffering in the inferno by dante alighieri and the aeneid by virgil

The ardor for knowledge is something that Dante knows all too well. Like Francesca and Paolo, Ulysses is linked with Diomedes who is his incestuous partner in fraud. Yet Ulysses, unlike Diomedes, had the additional craving for knowledge — an intellectual lust.

Dante remains remarkable staid and resolved, however, as the shade s moves away. Ulysses is likened to Icarus in his attempt to soar too high. Dante swoons after the story of Paolo and Francesca, thus betraying his strong connection to their infidelity.

The hero Ulysses is thus brought low as a mere deceiver and manipulator. A greater glory awaits them still. He is offering this final hurrah to all of his men. Yet the question remains: Tennyson shows the reader a great orator attempting to convince his men that a greater destiny awaits.

Does he know for sure that it does not? Is he truly attempting deception. So both Dante the poet and Dante the pilgrim show progress through Hell. Yet one must be careful not to equate the two.

  1. He identifies himself and foretells the journey in store. The first step must be to understand this evil, and this is where Virgil comes into the story.
  2. By the time the journey ends, Dante is sufficiently aware of the evil to begin the purgative process that leads ultimately to God. Without ever ceasing to be himself in the Comedy, Virgil is also a figure of natural humanity at its best, of all that one can achieve artistically, intellectually, and morally without supernatural aid.
  3. The lustful are compared to birds buffeted in a storm; the gluttons are submerged in mud and pelted by freezing rain; the hoarders and wasters roll huge boulders across a dry plain, raising "waves" of dust, and the wrathful are in a fetid swamp. Contrapasso is the awkward-to-translate and hence usually adopted-into-English word for this phenomenon.
  4. In elaborate allegorical fashion, Dante seems to be proclaiming that it was his reading of pagan literature, specifically of Virgil, that convinced him that he was, even in his successes of 1300, on the wrong path and that inspired him to seek the truth that he eventually rediscovered in Christianity.
  5. Moreover, one mode of torment leads into another, perhaps to emphasize the way one sin leads to another. Hell is the logical extension of this misery through eternity, with the soul now deprived both of the value of human remorse and of divine mercy.

The pilgrim Dante is Everyman: Whether or not the poet lived the life of the pilgrim is really irrelevant. Yet the poetic style changes as the pilgrim changes, evolving from a physical, detailed description to more general, abstract, and philosophical verse as the pilgrim moves closer to God. Originally published on July 22, 2003.

Dante the poet-pilgrim’s progress toward empathy in his epic journey through Hell to Heaven.

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