Background Notes on InfernoCanto – Italian word for “song”. The Divine Comedy is divided into 3 cantitas of 33 cantos each (plus one introductory canto = 100 total).Stanza – a poetic “paragraph”. The division of lines in poetry.Virgil – Roman poet – lived during Caesar’s time – the father of drama. Virgil guides Dante through hell in the Inferno. Dante acknowledges that Virgil is his mentor, or hero.Terza Rima – a rhyming poetic form that consists of an interlocking 3-line rhyme scheme: A-B-A, B-C-B, C-D-C, D-E-D. Poems or sections of poems written in terza rima end with either a single line or couplet repeating the rhyme of the middle line of the final tercet (3-line stanza). The two possible endings for the rhyme scheme example above are D-E-D E or D-E-D EE.
The Divine ComedyWidely considered the central epic poem of Italian literature, Dante’s Divine Comedy is seen as one of the greatest works of world literature.The Divine Comedy is composed of over 14,000lines that are divided into three canticas —Inferno (Hell) Purgatorio (Purgatory), andParadiso (Paradise) — each consisting of 33cantos. The number 3 is prominent in the work,represented here by the length of each cantica.
The poem is written in the first person, and tells of Dantes journey through the three realms of the dead, lasting during the Easter Triduum in the spring of 1300. The Roman poet Virgil guides him through Hell and Purgatory; Beatrice, Dantes ideal woman, guides him through Heaven.
Themes of InfernoDante Alighieri, claims that before achieving moral redemption, an individual must take a hard look at evil both in the world and in himself. Only by confronting inner evil can people achieve self-knowledge, which is the first step toward redemption.Dante also says that people should not be expected to make their journey alone; they need a guide to help them. (for him, Virgil and Beatrice)
Literary Techniques in InfernoSymbol – a concrete object that represents an idea or emotion. Ex: 3 = Christian symbol: Father, son, holy spirit (God is 3 people)Allegory – symbolic representation throughout an entire literary work (the whole thing is a symbol) – everything can be read on 2 levels – literal and figurative.
The poem begins in the middle …in medias res – Latin literary and artistic technique where the narrative starts in the middle of the story instead of from its beginning.The characters, setting, and conflict are often introduced through a series of flashbacks or through characters relating past events to each other.Probably originating from an oral tradition, the technique is a convention of epic poetry.
Pre-reading for Dante’s Inferno1. Consider the saying, “You reap what you sow.” Discuss what it means to your group.2. Does a person get what he/she deserves?3. Do you believe in the afterlife?4. Assuming there really is a Heaven and a Hell, what kind of people end up in each?5. In Hell, what kind of punishments do you envision for: • A thief • A liar • A cheater • A traitor • A murderer