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Dante’s Inferno. Unit 5, Lecture 2: The Inferno: I-V. Allegorical “Architecture” of Dante’s Afterworld. Built on Medieval Views of Astronomy and Geography: Nine celestial spheres circle the earth Earth divided into Northern and Southern Hemispheres Physical Architecture of The Comedy

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allegorical architecture of dante s afterworld
Allegorical “Architecture” of Dante’s Afterworld
  • Built on Medieval Views of Astronomy and Geography:
    • Nine celestial spheres circle the earth
    • Earth divided into Northern and Southern Hemispheres
  • Physical Architecture of The Comedy
    • Hell is a “funnel” in the Northern Hemisphere
    • Purgatory is a mountain rising up from the Southern Hemisphere’s waters
    • Heaven is “distributed” among the 9 spheres
  • Allegorical Architecture of The Comedy
    • Hell, purgatory, and heaven as forms of love
    • Hell=love perverted
    • Purgatory=love misdirected
    • Heaven=love completed
drama of the soul s choice a literal and allegorical trip through the inferno
“Drama of the Soul’s Choice: A Literal and Allegorical Trip through the Inferno
  • Canto 1: Lost in a woods, a soul’s fearful “wakeup” call
    • Literal Story (1)
      • Sleepy awakening in a dark woods:
      • Sunlit hill blocked by three beasts
    • Allegorical meaning (1)
      • Dante=The “backslidden” soul
      • Dark Woods=confusing darkness of sin
        • The Hill=the upward climb of repentance
        • Three Beasts=powerful habit
          • The Leopard of Self-indulgence
          • The Lion of violence
          • The Wolf of fraud
    • Literal Story (2)
      • Dante meets Virgil
      • Virgil: Escape must lie through infernal regions
    • Allegorical Meaning (2)
      • Virgil represents both classical culture and reason
      • Virgil as “reason” symbolizes the end of “denial.”
      • Virgil/Reason cannot “cure” sin or “
literal story allegorical meaning in cantos ii iv
Literal Story & Allegorical Meaning in Cantos II-IV
  • Canto II: Virgil’s Visitor, the outreach of grace
    • Literal Story:
      • Beatrice “commissioned” the journey
    • Allegorical Meaning
      • Beatrice as “god-bearing” image of Divine Grace
      • Divine grace is “passionless” but seeks out the sinner
  • Canto III: Hell’s Vestibule
    • Literal Story
      • Wasp stung runners chasing an elusive banner
      • Eager sinners waiting on Charonn’s boat
    • Allegorical Meaning
      • The “banner chasers” represent opportunism
      • The eager souls represent sin’s illusion
      • Charon represents the loss of illusion
  • Canto IV: Limbo, the first circle:
    • Literal Story
      • Limbo the place of deserving unbaptized
      • Dante meets the great of antiquity
    • Allegorical Meaning
      • Pagan learning is incomplete
      • Reason as “the failure of the imagination
literal and allegorical story canto v
Literal and Allegorical Story, Canto V
  • Canto V, Circle 2, lust in the driver’s seat
    • Literal Story:
      • The “funnel” shape of hell:
      • The circle of the lustful and its shattering wind
      • Glimpses of Helen, Paris, Dido
      • Tragic tale of Paolo and Francesca
    • Allegorical meaning
      • The funnel as “shape” of increasing sin
      • The gale-like winds as picture of uncontrolled passion.
      • Dante’s “fainting” as softness towards temptation