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Dante’s Inferno canto 1 lines 1-12Midway in our life’s journey, I went astrayfrom the straight road and woke to find myselfalone in a dark wood. How shall I say?what wood that was! I never saw so drear,so rank, so arduous a wilderness!Its very memory gives shape to fear.Death could scarce be more bitter than that place!But since it came to good, I will recountall that I found revealed there by God’s grace.How I came to it I cannot rightly say,so drugged and loose with sleep had I becomewhen I first wandered there from the True Way.How can we read these lines literally and figuratively?
Lust excessive love of others
Gluttony consumption to the point of waste
Greed/Avarice Choosing material and temporal over God
Sloth lazy / lacking zeal in love for God
Wrath uncontrolled feelings of hatred
Envy one’s desire to deprive others
Pride desire to be more important that others. "love of self perverted to hatred and contempt for one's neighbor."
Allegory: Dante/Italy lost his “moral way”
Love story: Dante is trying to get back to Beatrice, for him the image of God
Psychological: Dante is working out his depression from being banished from Florence.
Structure: Dante is shown a level of hell based on various sins. Usually one or two people offer their reason for being where they are as representation of sin. Notice the connection between sin and punishment
(i.e. Paulo and Francesca: sin/lust punishment/storm).
Dante in the Woods
Paolo and Francesca
Whirlwind of Lovers