Dante’s Inferno Period 4/5 SI’s
Dante • Personal life • Born around 1265 in Florence • Mother Died when he was ten • Was promised to Gemma Di Manetto Donati in marriage when he was twelve, but fell in love with Beatrice Portanari • Political views • Supported the Guelfs, instead of the Ghibellines • Guelfs supported the Pope, Ghibellines were supported by the HRE • When they defeated the Ghibellines, they split into the Black and White Guelfs. • Dante was in the White Guelfs
Dante • Poet • Wrote throughout his life, but wrote the most while in exile • Was no longer concerned with Florentine Politics • This is when he wrote the Divine Comedy • When is uncertain • Three Parts • Writes Sonnets to Beatrice Portanari • Never mentions actual wife in Poetry • Wrote in the vernacular instead of Latin • Convivio (collection of poems) Monarchia (political treatise) De Vulgari Eloquentia (On the Eloquence of Vernacular) • Influential Moments • Being Exiled was very painful, almost like death • was offered opportunity to return, but not without paying a heavy fine, so he refused
Political Background of Italy - late 1200s to early 1300s • Italy was dominated politically by city-states • Different from the rest of feudal Europe • Able to keep the power of church and imperialism at bay following the decline of the Holy Roman Empire • Commerce created prosperity • Created the conditions that allowed the exchange of ideas and art during the Renaissance
Political Background of Italy - The Guelphs and Ghibellines • Rival factions that played an important role in Italian city-state politics in the 12th and 13th centuries • The two factions competed for political power with the Guelphs supporting the Pope and the Ghibellines supporting the Roman Empire • Some members of the two factions are featured in The Inferno as sinners suffering in hell • Dante understood many of the actions of these groups to be immoral and fundamentally corrupt
Political Background of Florence - late 1200s to early 1300s • The Ghibellines ruled Florence in the first half of the 13th century • Were usurped by the Guelphs in 1250 • Florence became a mercantile powerhouse under the Guelphs, extending their influence in banking throughout Europe and the Near East • The Guelphs split into two factions, the White Guelphs and the Black Guelphs • Pope Bonafice VIII schemed with Blacks to seize power • The White Guelphs (Dante Alighieri) were exiled
Critical Reception - During Dante’s time • The Inferno was the first Italian work of epic poetry written in vernacular, not church Latin • Used the common language, the Florentine dialect of Italian • Standardized the Italian language • Paved the way for literature written in vernacular • Announced in 1314, it was controversial and poorly received due to its politically charged criticism of religious figures
Impact on future literature and other media • The Inferno offers truth and inspiration to many who consider themselves writers or philosophers • Themes of morality and self-awareness apply pressure to modern artists • Concerned about the inward implications of the natural world, not its physical form • Dante’s vision of Hell has shaped the modern understanding of the afterlife and sin • Outside of architecture and literature, the dark and sinister mood of The Inferno is a strong foundation for other media like video games and graphic novels
Sin according to the Catholic Church • 2 Categories:minor venial sins and more severe mortal sins • 7 original, or capital sins • Lust - • Gluttony - over-indulgence and over-consumption of anything to the point of waste • Greed - very excessive desire and pursuit of material possessions • Sloth - failure to do things that one should do • Wrath - inordinate and uncontrolled feelings of hatred and anger • Envy - desire for someone else’s success or achievment • Pride - inflated sense of one’s own personal status
Catholicism • Sin (continued) • Mortal sins must meet the following requirements • Grave/Serious matter at hand • committed with full knowledge of the offense • must be committed with deliberate and complete consent • Heaven • State of full communion with God • “Heaven is the ultimate end and fulfilment of the deepest human longings, the state of supreme, definitive happiness"
Catholicism • Purgatory “Necessary Purification” • Process of purification for those who wish to be in full communion with God but who are imperfect in their faith or wishes • Cleaned of all doubt and sin • Hell • Hell is the state of those who reject God • not a punishment set externally by God, but rather the consequences of actions and beliefs already set in this life (This is particularly relevant to Dante’s Inferno) • Hell is eternal damnation
The Aeneid and Virgil • Virgil, the poet • one of Rome’s greatest poets • wide, deep influence on western literature • Overview of the Aeneid • Modeled after the Iliad and The Odyssey (so it’s an epic, in Latin) • Aeneas flees Troy, goes to Carthidge, falls in love with queen Dido • Aeneas leaves Carthidge and so Dido kills herself • Aeneas goes to Drepanum where they celebrate Anchises’ death and Aeneas gets a prophecy telling him to go to the underworld to meet his father • Meets his dad in the underworld, dad shows him the shades that will become the heroes of the Roman empire
The Aeneid and Virgil • Overview of the Aeneid (continued) • Sets sail for Laurentum to build his great city (Because his destiny is to seek out Italy) • once there, the king greets them warmly, wants his daughter to mary him. Juno is mad, so she sends a fury to stir up trouble. Now there is a war between the Latins and the Trojans. • In the end, it comes down to a duel between Aeneas and Turnus (one of the daughter’s suitors) • Aeneas wins even with Turnus being aided by the gods • Epic ends with Aeneas not showing mercy, and plunging his sword through Turnus’ chest.
Aristotle on Sin • Lived 384-322 BC • Studied under Plato and tutored Alexander the Great • Is called “the first genuine scientist in history” by the Encyclopedia Britannica • Sin • Wantonness, violence, and fraud • Wantonness includes lust and gluttony and is the lightest sin • Things we share with the animals • Fraud is betrayal, and is the worst sin • Dante also includes religious sins that Aristotle did not