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  • Abandon all hope, ye who enter here… ”

  • Inscribed above the Gate of Hell,

  • these ominous words warn dark tidings for Dante

  • as he begins his descent into inferno.

  • Yet despite the grim tone,

  • this prophecy sets into motion what is perhaps the greatest love story ever told;

  • an epic journey that encompasses both the human and the divine.

  • But for Dante to reach benevolent salvation,

  • he must first find his way through Hell.

  • This landscape of torture is the setting for "Inferno,"

  • the first in a three-part narrative poem

  • written by Dante Alighieri in the 14th century.

  • Casting himself as the protagonist,

  • Dante travels deeper and deeper into Hell’s abyss,

  • witnessing obscene punishments distinct to each of its nine realms.

  • Beginning in Limbo, he travels through the circles of Lust, Gluttony, Greed, Wrath,

  • Heresy, Violence, and Fraud,

  • to the horrific ninth circle of Treachery,

  • where sinners are trapped under the watchful eyes of Satan himself.

  • The following two parts, "Purgatorio" and "Paradiso," continue Dante’s journey,

  • as he scales the Mount of Purgatory

  • and ascends the nine celestial spheres of Heaven.

  • Written together over 10 years, these 3 sections comprise the "Divine Comedy"–

  • an allegorical imagining of the soul’s journey towards God.

  • But Dante’s "Divine Comedy" is more than just religious allegory.

  • It’s also a witty, scathing commentary on Italian politics.

  • A soldier and statesman from Florence, Dante was staunchly faithful to God,

  • but often critical of the Roman Catholic Church.

  • He particularly disliked its rampant nepotism and practice of simony,

  • the buying and selling of religious favours such as pardons from sin.

  • Many groups took advantage of these corrupt customs,

  • but few supported them as much as the Guelfi Neri, or Black Guelphs.

  • This was a political and religious faction

  • which sought to expand the pope’s political influence.

  • Dante was a member of the Guelfi Bianchi, or White Guelphs

  • who believed Florence needed more freedom from Roman influence.

  • As a public representative for the White Guelphs,

  • Dante frequently spoke out against the pope’s power,

  • until the Black Guelphs leveraged their position

  • to exile him from Florence in 1302.

  • But rather than silencing him,

  • this lifelong exile led to Dante’s greatest critique of all.

  • Dishonored and with little hope of return,

  • the author freely aired his grievances with the Church and Italian society.

  • Writing the "Divine Comedy" in Italian,

  • rather than the traditional Latin of the educated elite,

  • Dante ensured the widest possible audience for his biting political commentary.

  • In the "Inferno’s" circle of the Wrathful,

  • Dante eagerly witnesses sinners

  • tear Black Guelph Filippo Argenti limb from limb.

  • In the circle of Fraud,

  • Dante converses with a mysterious sinner burning in the circle’s hottest flames.

  • He learns that this is Pope Nicholas III,

  • who tells Dante that his two successors will take his place when they die

  • all three guilty of simony and corruption.

  • Despite the bleak and sometimes violent imagery in "Inferno,"

  • the "Divine Comedy" is also a love story.

  • Though Dante had an arranged marriage

  • with the daughter of a powerful Florentine family,

  • he had also been unrequitedly in love with another woman since he was nine years old:

  • Beatrice Portinari.

  • Despite allegedly meeting just twice, she became Dante’s lifelong muse,

  • serving as the inspiration and subject for many of his works.

  • In fact, it’s Beatrice who launches his intrepid journey into the pits of Hell

  • and up the terraces of Mount Purgatory.

  • Portrayed as a powerful, heavenly figure,

  • she leads Dante through "Paradiso’s" concentric spheres of Heaven

  • until he is finally face-to-face with God.

  • In the centuries since its publication,

  • the "Divine Comedy’s" themes of love, sin, and redemption

  • have been embraced by numerous artists

  • from Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dali, to Ezra Pound and Neil Gaiman.

  • And the poet himself received his own belated, earthly redemption in 2008,

  • when the city of Florence finally revoked Dante’s antiquated exile.

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here… ”

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B2 TED-Ed dante divine inferno comedy florence

Why should you read Dante’s “Divine Comedy”? - Sheila Marie Orfano

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/20
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