The Divine Comedy is composed of 14,233 lines that are divided into three canticas each consisting of 33 cantos The number 3 is prominent in the work, represented by the length of each cantica
The verse scheme used, terza rima , is hendecasyllabic (lines of eleven syllables) with the lines composing tercets according to the rhyme scheme aba, bcb, cdc, ded,
The poem contains 100 cantos 100 was regarded as a perfect number in the Middle Ages. It has an introductory canto then divided into 3 sections of 33 cantos.
Terza rima – the middle line rhymes with the first and third lines of the next tercet Tercet – 3 line stanza 3 – relation to the Christian Trinity, union of the 3 divine figures-
– Father , Son Holy Spirit – in one God Inferno focuses on the power of God the Father evidenced in punishments of the damned. Purgatorio focuses on the wisdom of Christ the Son.
Paradiso focuses on the love of the Holy Spirit 3 days beginning in hell on Good Friday ending in Paradise on Easter Sunday 3 Ladies - Virgin Mary, Saint Lucia, Beatrice
Virgin Mary – the mother of Christ who mediates between God and man Saint Lucia – the patron saint of Dante and of all those without spiritual sight. Beatrice – Dante’s love that lead him into Paradise.
In central Italy's political struggle between Guelphs and Ghibellines , Dante was part of the Guelphs, who in general favored the Papacy over the Holy Roman Emperor . Florence's Guelphs split into factions around 1300, the White Guelphs, and the Black Guelphs.
Dante was among the White Guelphs who were exiled in 1302 at the request of Pope Boniface VIII , who supported the Black Guelphs The struggle for power within the Florentine republic and in Italy at large later affected Dante’s political career, causing his perpetual exile from Florence.
The greater part of Divine Comedy was written during the time poverty and privation.
begins on the day before Good Friday in the year 1300 The narrator, Dante himself, is thirty-five years old )—half of the Biblical life expectancy of seventy ( Psalm 90:10). finds him lost in a dark wood and wishes to ascend the Mount of Joy
he is assailed by three beasts (a lion , a leopard , and a she-wolf) he cannot evade them, and unable to find the &quot;straight way&quot; ( diritta via )—also translatable as &quot;right way&quot;—to salvation. He was later saved by the poet Virgil claimed to have been sent by Beatrice.
Descends into Hell which is shaped like an inverted cone After leaving Hell they ascend to Purgatory The Mountain of Purgatory is divided into seven sections of circular ascending stairway
Each ledge is devoted to the expiation of the 7 deadly sins When Dante reaches Paradise, Beatrice meets him and becomes his guide to heaven
She leads him upward to the nine heaven and acquaints him with great men among them the saints who by their virtuous lives deserved to enjoy the vision of God in Paradise. Absorbed in the beautiful vision of God in paradise, Dante falls into a faint and awakens on Earth.
Overview of La Divina Commedia and Inferno Symbolisms of La Divina Commedia
Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, represents the vision of the 3 realms of the Catholic otherworld and the description of “the state of the soul after death.” It is a Christian Epic . The story is related to a vision; it is the story of humanity itself.
Dante’s Divine Comedy is both an epic and allegory. Epic: is a long narrative poem that recounts the deeds of larger-than-life hero who embodies the values of a particular society.
Allegory: a narrative that takes place on both a literal and figurative, or symbolic level. In an allegory, concrete details from the external world are used to represent inner mental states or spiritual truths. The work provides a portrait of almost every aspect of medieval human life.
On the surface the poem describes Dante's travels through Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven; but at a deeper level it represents allegorically the soul's journey towards God.
At this deeper level, Dante draws on medieval Christian theology and philosophy, especially the writings of Thomas Aquinas . Dante , traveling through the invisible world, is mankind who tries to find temporal happiness.
Inferno – recognizing sin Purgatorio – rejecting sin and awaiting redemption Paradiso – achieving salvation through faith and revelation. Forest : Worldliness or sin Leopard : Malice and Fraud
She-wolf : Incontinence Lion : Violence and Ambition Three Beasts : obstacles to man’s happiness Murky air: beclouding of reason by passion Great Gale: lust
Virgil : Human Reason (which should come to help man in this journey through life) Virgil : the ultimate symbol of what human reason can achieve without faith.
Beatrice : Divine Love, symbol of love and faith, the woman who first gave Dante a glimpse of spiritual perfection. Without these two aiding him, man cannot attain his true end, which is happiness.
The poem is written in the first person, and tells of Dante's journey through the three realms of the dead In Hell and Purgatory, Dante shares in the sin and the penitence respectively.
The last word in each of the three parts of the Divine Comedy is stelle , &quot;stars.“ Each sin's punishment in Inferno is a contrapasso , a symbolic instance of poetic justice ;
Example: fortune-tellers have to walk forwards with their heads on backwards, unable to see what is ahead, because they tried, through forbidden means, to look ahead to the future in life.
&quot;functions not merely as a form of divine revenge, but rather as the fulfillment of a destiny freely chosen by each soul during his or her life.&quot;
Dante passes through the gate of Hell, which bears an inscription, the ninth (and final) line of which is the famous phrase &quot; &quot;Abandon all hope, ye who enter here&quot;
As with the Purgatorio and Paradiso , the Inferno has a structure of 9+1=10 Each circle's sinners are punished in a fashion fitting their crimes: each sinner is afflicted for all of eternity by the chief sin he committed.
People who sinned but prayed for forgiveness before their deaths are found not in Hell but in Purgatory , where they labor to be free of their sins. Those in Hell are people who tried to justify their sins and are unrepentant.
Allegorically, the Inferno represents the Christian soul seeing sin for what it really is, and the three beasts represent three types of sin: the self-indulgent, the violent, and the malicious
These three types of sin also provide the three main divisions of Dante's Hell: Upper Hell (the first 5 Circles) for the self-indulgent sins; Circles 6 and 7 for the violent sins; and Circles 8 and 9 for the malicious sins.
Ante Hell and Neutrals: the Uncommitted, souls of people who in life did nothing, neither for good nor evil ACHERON First circle (Limbo) In Limbo reside the unbaptized and the virtuous pagans
Second circle (lust) In the second circle of Hell are those overcome by lust . Dante condemns these &quot;carnal malefactors“ for letting their appetites sway their reason. They are the first ones to be truly punished in Hell.
These souls are blown about to and fro by the terrible winds of a violent storm, without hope of rest. This symbolizes the power of lust to blow one about needlessly and aimlessly. Third circle (gluttony)
Fourth circle (greed) Avaricious or miserly who hoarded possessions the Prodigal, who squandered them Fifth circle (anger) STYX The lower parts of Hell are contained within the walls of the
city of Dis Punished within Dis are active (rather than passive) sins Sixth circle (heresy) PHLEGETHON Seventh circle (violence) Outer ring : This ring houses the violent against people and
property (against neighbors, tyrants, murderers Middle ring : In this ring are the suicides (the violent against self), Unique among the dead, the suicides will not be bodily resurrected after the final judgment.
Squanderers, violent against their possessions Inner ring : Here the violent against God (blasphemers) and the violent against nature (sodomites and, as explained in the sixth circle, usurers)
Eighth circle (fraud) The fraudulent—those guilty of deliberate, knowing evil—are located in a circle named Malebolge (&quot;Evil Pockets&quot;), divided into ten Bolgie , or ditches of stone, with bridges spanning the ditches:
Bolgia 1 : Panderers ( pimps ) and seducers Bolgia 2 : Flatterers also exploited other people, this time using language Bolgia 3 : those who committed simony Bolgia 4 : Sorcerers , astrologers , and false prophets
Bolgia 5 : Corrupt politicians ( barrators ) Bolgia 6 : In the sixth Bolgia , the poets find the hypocrites Bolgia 7 : thieves Bolgia 8 : fraudulent advisers or evil councilors
Bolgia 9 : In the ninth Bolgia , a sword-wielding demon hacks at the sowers of scandal and schism Bolgia 10 : In the final Bolgia , various sorts of falsifiers metal, coins, words, persons (alchemists , counterfeiters, perjurers, and impersonators)
Ninth circle (treachery) Round 1 is named Caïna, Traitors to kindred Round 2 is named Antenora, Traitors to political entities, such as party, city, or country
Round 3 is named Ptolomea Traitors to their guests are punished here Round 4 is named Judecca Here are the traitors to their lords and benefactors COCYTUS
In the very centre of Hell, condemned for committing the ultimate sin (personal treachery against God), is Satan . Satan is described as a giant, terrifying beast with three faces, one red, one black, and one a pale yellow:
Each face has a mouth that chews on a prominent traitor, with Brutus and Cassius In the central, most vicious mouth is Judas Iscariot —the namesake of Judecca and the betrayer of Jesus
The two poets escape Hell by climbing down Satan's ragged fur, passing through the centre of the earth and they emerge in the other hemisphere beneath a sky studded with stars.
who sinned by excess passion most natural sin the sin most nearly associated with love its punishment is the lightest of all to be found in Hell proper.
The Carnal are whirled and buffeted endlessly through the murky air by a great gale. Minos : a judge of the underworld in mythology.
A former king of Crete renowned for the wisdom and severity of his judgments. The place each sinner is determined by the number of times Minos’ tail twines around his body.
Semiramis : a legendary Queen of Assyria, notorious for her licentiousness, she was supposed to have legalized even incest.
- Dido : Queen and founder of Carthage. She vowed to remain faithful to her husband, Sichaeus, but she fell in love Aeneas. But Aeneas abandoned her and she committed suicide.
- Cleopatra : Queen of Egypt whose beauty was legendary, was mistress first of Julius Caesar and then of Mark Anthony. Rather than be taken to Rome as a captive, she killed herself with a poisonous asp.
Helen : wife of Menelaus, King of Sparta, who eloped with Paris. Achilles : the principal Greek hero in the Trojan War.
Accounts in the Middle Ages claim that Paris killed Achilles in the temple of Apollo, where he had been lured by the promises that he could have Priam’s daughter Polyxena if he withdraw the Greek forces from the war.
- Paris : son of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. He and Helen eloped to Troy which caused the Trojan War but was later killed in the war by Philoctetes.
- Tristan : hero of the medieval French romance, was the lover of Yseult or Isolde, wife of King Mark of Cornwall, Tristan’s uncle who wounds Tristan with a poisoned arrow.
- Francesca Rimini And Paolo Malatesta: To unite these two prominent political families of Florence, Guido da Polenta of Ravenna, made a political marriage between Giovanni Malatesta of Rimini,
called Giovanni the Lame, a somewhat deformed but brave and powerful warrior and his daughter Francesca. Guido knew Francesca would refuse Giovanni, so the wedding was performed by proxy through Giovanni's handsome brother, Paolo.
Francesca fell in love with Paolo and was unaware of the deception until the morning after the wedding day.
According to Dante, Francesca and Paolo were seduced by reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, and became lovers. Subsequently they were surprised and murdered by Giovanni before they were able to repent.
The end of Inferno Albert, Susan W. et al. World Literature . Rev. ed. USA: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. 1998 pp.741 – 759 “ Abandon all hope, all ye who enter”