Hell is Math (not other people) HUM 2051: Civilization I Fall 2013 Dr. Perdigao November 20, 2013
Structuring • Poem’s structural complications—most remarkable act about external effects=symmetry • Dante’s world—symmetry is the central value • As “foundational text for the European literary imagination” (1456) • For Dante and medieval philosophy, love as natural inclination—“movement toward something outside the self” and the “natural and proper object of love is God” (1458). In Purgatory, perverse love. • Enormous poem, bewilderingly complicated, names, principles, but has sharp and controlled planning (like architectural companion—Gothic cathedral) • 3 part structure of the afterworld: inferno, purgatorio, paradiso • Structure based on 3—because number of Christian trinity, Father, Son, Holy Spirit=mystical number for Middle Ages
Calc I • 3—provides rhyme scheme, stanza unity, structure • Each of three books of nearly equal lengths—each book has 33 cantos or chapters • Exception to 3-33 arrangement: Inferno has 34, but first=introduction to the whole poem • 33 x 3=99 +1=100 • 100=10 x 10 (itself) • 10=product of 32 + 1= mystery of trinity, 1 person plus God • Mysticism based on his faith, reflected in numbers, is reflected in the poem • God’s nature reflected in the world, work of art wanting to praise God
Medieval Numbers • 1=unity, God the creator • 3=Trinity • 7=number of creation, life and the world itself, completeness and unity because God created the universe in 7 days • 8=number of resurrection and salvation because one beyond 7 and earthly life • 10=number of perfection, base on which all numbers are built (653) • 100=perfect number 10 multiplied by its own perfection • Sees Beatrice when 9, do not see each other for 9 years, she dies in 1290 (ninth decade in thirteenth century); she becomes divine symbol • Christ died at 33 (654) • 10 order of angels, 9 when Lucifer falls; man completes as 10 (655) • Richard H. Lansing and TeodolindaBarolini, The Dante Encyclopedia
3s • Inferno—lost souls in 3 groups: • Incontinence (failures of self-control) [she-wolf] • Violence [lion] • Fraud (any betrayal of others—cheating, fortune-telling) [leopard] • Three types of sin, 9 circles of hell • Purgatorial: 3 main sections: pre-purgatory, purgatory (7 ledges, each purify sin), Garden of Eden (top—earthly paradise) • 7 ledges and pre-purgatory and mountain (Eden)=9 • Paradiso—ascending order, concentric circles, corresponds with 9 spheres in medieval astronomy (moon, Mercury, Venus, the sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, the fixed stars, and the “primum mobile, or outermost sphere, which moves the others”) (1459) • Add unconstrained realm—imperium, true abode of God, saints: 9 +1=10=perfect number • At bottom, inversion—3 faces of Satan, frozen singularity of ice, lake of tears • Obsessively, insanely organized to us, but coherent organization to them, perfectly realized
More Silly Numbers • Terza rima—1st line rhymes with third, unrhymed second, becomes rhyme for next stanza (easier in Italian than in English): aba bcb cdc • Tercets—groups of three with repeated rhyme, “verbal equivalent to the three-in-one of the Trinity” (1458) • Meter of individual lines—11 syllable lines, 10 + 1 (33 syllables in each tercet) • Effect of uniformity and variation • Allegorical: first two lines… In the middle of the road of our life, I found myself—shifts from “our” to “my” to show allegory—my life illustrates the larger structure, architecture of the poem again
A Christian Epic? • Pagan Virgil is guide through the cosmology of Christian afterlife, merges classical epic with dream narrative out of medieval Christian patterns, quotes Old Testament, New Testament, classics, borrows from Book VI of The Aeneid with descent into the underworld (1460) • Crosses classical influence and Judeo Christian: “It is a poem that declares everywhere its commitment to the culture of medieval Christendom; and yet it celebrates the achievements of the classical world and extends its admiration even to Islamic philosophy” (1456). • Northern and southern hemisphere, only the northern inhabited; the central point is Jerusalem. Hell was created when Lucifer fell from Heaven (1459). • Comprehensive as it accounts for science as well, showing everything is connected in this era • As work of literature, entertains and instructs
Traditions • Like epic and Hebraic predecessor, the Gospel, this is a story of a journey, from condition of loss/captivity > new home, guided by God • Here, ritual death and rebirth, like Aeneas undergoes • Paradox: finds self by losing self, learns to live • Hero=Dante himself, but Dante pilgrim, not poet. As literal example, he has already learned his lessons while character has to learn them, like Aeneas rather than Odysseus (who is). “I am not Aeneas, I am not Paul” (1459, 2.32).