The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri is considered by many as the first great
poem in the Italian language and perhaps the greatest poem written in Medieval
Europe. The poem is so famous that one of the minor characters, Capaneus the
great blasphemer, has his name on a mesa on one of Jupiter's moon Io (Blue, 1).
Also, the poem is divided into three canticles, or sections, "Inferno,"
"Purgatorio,' and "Paradisio." For the purposes of this paper, only "Inferno"
will be discussed.
In "Inferno," Dante the Pilgrim is lost. In his wanderings he encounters three
specters, the leopard, the lion, and the she-wolf. Dante runs away from these
three foes and is stopped by Virgil, a Roman era poet. Virgil promises to show
Dante hell, purgatory, and then Beatrice, a dead friend of Dante's will show him
heaven. Dante agrees and they embark. Dante and Virgil see many scary and
terrifying sites in hell. He first sees the indecisionists who in life could not
make up there mind who in death are forced to run after a flag. They visit
Limbo, where those who were not baptized but lived a virtuous life stay. They
see various sinners of the lesser circles, Paolo and Francesca, the adulterous
lovers and the sinners who committed anger, greed, avarice, and gluttony. They
enter the City of Dis and see the heretics in their coffins. They travel down a
river of blood where the murderers are kept. As they travel farther down into
hell, they see worse sins and even worse punishments for those sins. Finally
they see Lucifer. Then, they climb a rock cliff and escape hell....
... middle of paper ...
understand these levels, literal, allegorical, moral, and anagogical, one must
first understand Dante's symbolism.
Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Trans. Henry F. Cary.
New York: P.F. Collier & Son Corp., 1960.
Alighieri, Dante. The Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Trans. John Carlyle. New York: Vintage Books, 1959.
Blue, Jennifer. "Io Nomenclature Mensa." Io Nomenclature. http://wwwflag.wr.usgs.gov/USGSFlag/Space/nomen/jupiter/ioTOC.html > (30
Forman, Roberts, J. "Dante Alighieri." Magill's Survey of World Literature. Vol. 2. New York: Marshall Cavendish Corp., 1993. 500-503.
Kashdan, Joanne G. "The Divine Comedy." Masterplots. 1727-1731.
Pirandello, Luigi. "The Poetry of Dante." Dante. Ed. John Freccero. Englewood
Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1965.
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