In the beginning when God created humanity, it was said that He created all humans in His image of goodness (Genesis 1:27). Dante then adds in his Divine Comedy that God has instilled a certain predetermined capacity of goodness in each human being as He wills, which should be utilized fully during life (Paradise 3:84). It would then be assumed, in Dantean thought, that all humans have the choice to live fully to this capacity and assume a place in heaven upon death, to fail to utilize this capacity and suffer in Hell for eternity, or to sin and seek repentance at some point in their lives, allowing them to enter Purgatory. Yet, this statement seems to have certain restrictions when we first look at Dante’s Divine Comedy. Dante’s Inferno shows virtuous pagans in the first circle of Hell and has the reader believe that one must be a Christian to enter Heaven, or Purgatory. As the reader continues into Paradise, he discovers that there are indeed some pagans who have risen to Heaven, but only because they were allowed the mercy to be baptized after death. This idea seems unjust to those who have lived sinless lives without being given the choice to embrace Christ. It is understood that direct refusal of Christianity would result in an eternity in Hell, but for those sinless and virtuous people who lived before Christ or beyond the reaches of Christian teachings, it seems absurd to deny them entrance into Heaven. With careful examination of the Divine Comedy, it can be understood that the actual act of baptism and the embracing of Jesus Christ symbolize the ideas and significance each act represents and are not intended for the reader to take these acts for their literal meanings. The presence ...
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Throughout the entire work of Dante’s Divine Comedy, pagans play an integral role. Pagans are present in each of the three parts of Dante’s afterlife and a pagan is even chosen to be Dante’s guide. The prevalence of these individuals suggests the idea that God loves all people and rewards those who have embraced the ideas and morals of the Christian religion and lived virtuously and without sin. Dante’s Divine Comedy provides enough basis to form the argument that one does not necessarily have to be Christian to enter Heaven, but only needs to embrace the ideals that Christ and baptism represent. Also, through using Emperor Trajan as an example of a virtuous pagan’s successful entrance to Heaven, it is seen that possession of these ideals along with the virtue of humility is what allowed certain pagans into Paradise and excluded others for eternity.
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