Virgil and Dante Essay example

Virgil and Dante Essay example

Length: 1904 words (5.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Powerful Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Virgil and Dante


In the note to Canto V regarding Francesca and Paulo, the Hollanders exclaim that “Sympathy for the damned, in the Inferno, is nearly always and nearly certainly the sign of a wavering moral disposition” (112). Indeed, many of the touching, emotional, or indignation rousing tales told by the souls in Hell can evoke pity, but in the telling of the tales, it is always possible to derive the reasons for the damned souls’ placement in Hell. However, there is a knee-jerk reaction to separate Virgil and, arguably, some of the other souls in limbo from this group of the damned, though, with careful perusal of the text, the thoughtful reader can discern the machinations behind their damnation.
Although the dynamic between Virgil and Dante shifts dramatically through Purgatorio, throughout the Inferno, Virgil is the teacher and Dante the pupil, often bordering on an almost father-son relationship. It is the Roman, in Canto V, who asks the famous guiding question, “What are your thoughts?” (V.111), forcing the Florentine to pause and reason through what he is learning. Again, in Canto XXIV when Dante begins to weary, which is of little wonder: the poem begins at dawn with Dante lost from already being “so full of sleep” (I.11), Virgil manages to revitalize Dante’s spirits, calling for him to “Cast off sloth” (XXIV.46) and “Get to your feet” (XXIV.52), while reminding him of the “longer stair that must be climbed” (XXIV.55), Purgatory, which lies only a mere ten cantos ahead. Unarguably, this close relationship which forms between the two poets makes the reader’s heart pity Virgil’s damnation.

This pity is doubled when one considers Virgil’s special situation: he is in Limbo, the circle of the virtuous pagans, thos...


... middle of paper ...


...le to consider that Dante has erred in his placement of Virgil, noting how successfully that works with the rest of the allegorical levels.

Perhaps then the answer and the problem which demands this answer, lies not with Dante or the poem, but within the reader. It is easy to identify with Dante, a man riddled with flaws; Virgil then becomes closer as a father figure. Thus, all the complex emotions wrapped in the bizarre web of paternity are translated onto Virgil. When one sees Virgil, one sees oneself; one sees one’s father. The damnation of the Roman I puzzling, paradoxical, and confusing, but not unjustified: many other souls in Hell fall under the same category. That to pity Virgil is to pity the part of ourselves which fears damnation and to pity our family before considering justice, is a lesson which can only be learned in the fire and ice of Hell.

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Virgil's Purpose in the Divine Comedy Essay

- It is difficult to determine the true nature of Virgil in Dante's Commedia. At times, he grants incredible advice that parallels the wisdom of some early church fathers, and other times he shows no expertise in any situation, to the point of conferring entirely misinformed counsel. This disparity is confusing mainly because Virgil looked like he would be an infallible guide at the beginning of the Divine Comedy. Yet there are plenty of occurrences confirming Virgil's shortcomings beyond doubt. So what is Dante trying to convey in Virgil's personage....   [tags: Virgil in Dante's Commedia, Literry Analysis]

Powerful Essays
1745 words (5 pages)

Dante 's Inferno, By Dante And Virgil Essay

- Though there are countless disturbing moments throughout Dante’s Inferno, one can dare to say that Canto 34 is the most irreverent canto in Inferno. In Canto 34, Dante and Virgil meet the sinners who are deemed to be the most evil; those who betrayed their benefactors (the individuals who extended their kindness towards them.) It is also the canto where Dante meets Satan, the king of hell. Dante opens Canto 34 with a sentence in Latin that reads: “Vexilla, regis prodeunt inferni.” One translation of the words being: “The banners of the king of Hell draw closer.” At first glance, the reader might dismiss the fact that this is the only line in canto 34 that is written in Latin....   [tags: Devil, Hell, Satan, Divine Comedy]

Powerful Essays
1017 words (2.9 pages)

Essay on Dante 's Impact On The Inferno

- Dante’s Impact Dante Alighieri is known for writing one of the greatest pieces of literature of all time, called The Divine Comedy. In the Divine Comedy, there are three poems: Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. All three of these books are allegories. His most famous poem is the Inferno. In the Inferno, we follow Dante himself, and his guide, Virgil, through the nine levels of Hell. What I wanted to talk about is the use of allegory, and Dante’s Impact. Let 's start off with The Divine Comedy itself....   [tags: Divine Comedy, Inferno, Virgil, Dante Alighieri]

Powerful Essays
1198 words (3.4 pages)

The Inferno By Dante Alighieri Essay

- “Abandon all hope ye who enter here” (The Inferno, Cantos III). This line which is inscribed above the gates of Hell, and notably one of the most iconic lines from Dante Alighieri’s, The Inferno, describes what horrors await one inside Hell. Dante Alighieri wrote The Divine Comedy, while in exile from his home and birth place, Florence. The Divine Comedy is not only a physical, but spiritual journey which consists of three parts. Part one is The Inferno where Dante journeys through Hell with his guide, the Roman poet Virgil....   [tags: Divine Comedy, Virgil, Dante Alighieri, Inferno]

Powerful Essays
1041 words (3 pages)

Essay on Dante's Inferno, Cantos 24

- ... There is a longer ladder yet to climb: this much is not enough. If you understand me, show that you mean to profit from your time.” This is a turning point for Dante. Within the text, Dante has become exhausted, overwhelmed with what he has seen through the journey. He falls to the ground, crying that he wishes to go no further. Virgil basically tells him to put his big boy britches on and deal with it, because the journey has just begun. The speech mentions other parts in the story that have been addressed already, such fighting for the True Way, not allowing the self to be tempted by sin, and the reward for such a journey....   [tags: Virgil's motivational speech to Dante]

Powerful Essays
538 words (1.5 pages)

Essay on William Bouguerau's Dante and Virgil in Hell (1850)

- William Bouguerau's Dante and Virgil in Hell (1850) After viewing William Bouguerau's, Dante and Virgil in Hell, I began a quest to gain a greater understanding of the religious meaning to life, and in particular more meaning to my life. Bouguerau's powerful depiction initially left me with curiosity about Dante's Devine Comedy. I read Dante with fascination and a burning desire to learn more about Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. Like a maddening and irresistible brain teaser I puzzle over these great religions and I am left with more questions than answers....   [tags: Dante Religion Religious]

Free Essays
1303 words (3.7 pages)

Essay on Dante 's Inferno : Allegory And Imagery

- People in today’s world are more open-minded and opinionated than ever before. This has changed the way literature is viewed today. There are many social groups with different ideologies all who view works of literature in their own way. Although authors express their ideas in their own words the different types of readers can interpret it with their own meaning. In one piece of literature, Dante’s Inferno, the author’s trip through hell can be viewed and interpreted in many ways. An individual can perceive different meanings from Dante’s Inferno based on their beliefs and background....   [tags: Divine Comedy, Inferno, Virgil, Dante Alighieri]

Powerful Essays
1282 words (3.7 pages)

A Perfectly Functioning Bureaucracy By Dante Alighieri Essay

- Hell, as envisioned by Dante Alighieri in his Inferno, is described by Robert Hollander as a “perfectly functioning bureaucracy” . The organization of it, however, creates many conflicting issues within the text. The way Dante organizes the circles and each of the sins within them is complicated and problematic, especially when considering how interrelated each of these sins are and how easy it is for a soul to fit into more than one circle. Not only does Dante fail to explain how these problems are dealt with, but his condemning of real people to his fictionalized version of Hell only serves to further convolute his concept of Hell, in its entirety....   [tags: Divine Comedy, Inferno, Virgil, Dante Alighieri]

Powerful Essays
1082 words (3.1 pages)

Essay on The Inferno By Dante Alighieri

- The Inferno, written by Dante Alighieri, is the first part of the epic three-part poem Divine Comedy. The Inferno tells of Dante’s travel through hell while he’s guided by the Roman poet Virgil. One day Dante wakes up and finds himself alone in a dark wood. Dante is alone and frightened by the different beasts that block his path, such as a leopard, a lion, and a she-wolf. Virgil shows up and agrees to help Dante travel through hell. The reason Virgil’s presence is vital to Dante’s journey through Hell, is because without Virgil guiding him through hell Dante wouldn’t be protected from the different beasts, he wouldn’t know his way around hell, and he wouldn’t know the different sins and...   [tags: Divine Comedy, Dante Alighieri, Virgil, Inferno]

Powerful Essays
746 words (2.1 pages)

Divine Comedy - Dante and Virgil's Relationship in Canto XIV of Dante’s Inferno

- Dante and Virgil's Relationship in Canto XIV of Dante’s Inferno In Canto XIV of Dante’s Inferno, Virgil describes the statue of the Old Man of Crete. Dante uses the Old Man of Crete as a metaphor for Virgil’s legacy in order to elucidate the nature of Dante’s and Virgil’s relationship. In the beginning of the metaphor, Dante carefully and methodically illustrates the grandeur of the Greek empire and Roman civilization. "[Mount Ida] was once chosen," Virgil explains, "as a trusted cradle/ by Rhea for her son" (XIV.100-101)....   [tags: Divine Comedy Inferno Essays]

Powerful Essays
841 words (2.4 pages)