Alighieri's Use of Allegory

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Every famous author has something that makes them “special” or “unique.” Some are great at personifying inanimate objects. While others, find strength in their use of metaphors. Through studying Dante Alighieri, there is one particular writing tool he utilizes often. The tool that he uses throughout the entire Divine Comedy is allegory. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines it as: “a story in which the characters and events are symbols that stand for ideas about human life or for a political or historical situation” (Merriam-Webster, 2013) The ways in which he uses allegory is inherent throughout the entire tale. In his book, The Inferno he describes Dante the Pilgrim’s descent into Hell and the different things he sees. There are a variety of sins and punishments that are outlined in his book. Out of the many descriptions that are portrayed in Alighieri’s The Inferno, the punishments of the flatterers, the fortune tellers, and the traitors to God are the most allegorical.
First of all, the punishment of the flatterers that is included in Alighieri’s The Inferno helps to portray the pure definition of allegory. In Canto 18, Alighieri introduces the beginning bolgias, or sub-topics. The second bolgia in this canto is directed to flatterers. Seward defines flatterers as: “The punishment for being a flatterer is that they are sunk in their own excrement. They are sunk in the filth (flattery) that they excreted in life. They were full of it, and now they are to be sunk in it. One of the sinners down here is a prostitute named Thais, who falsely praises her ‘lover’.” (Seward, 2013) The common, censored, term for these people is “crap-talkers”, or “BS-ers.” This is a favorite punishment for people because it is a common sin to this ...

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