ENG150Y1 Lecture Notes - Pietro Della Vigna, Theodicy, Pentecost

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Published on 14 Apr 2013
Dante's inferno
Think of the story as a Theodicy
Greek: God + Justice
A Writing, doctrine, or theory intended to "Justify the ways of God to men' (OED)
Sub Specie Aeternitatis
Latin ("Under the aspect of eternity")
"Humans have the special capacity to step back and survey themselves, and the lives to which
they are committed... Without developing the illusion that they are able to escape from their
highly specific and idiosyncratic position, they can view it sub specie Aeternitatis - and
The Inferno: Questioning God's Justice
Justice moved my maker on high.
Divine power made me.
Wisdom Supreme, and Primal Love
the book brings the idea that God is a sadist, which is dangerous thinking for the time in which
this story was written.
Canto XIII: The Suicides
the Romans believed it was a honorable idea.
Thomas Aquinas denounced suicide as an act against God as a sin for which one could not
1. Suicide is contrary to natural self-love, whose aim is to preserve us.
2. suicide injures the community of which an individual is a part
3. Suicide violates our duty to God because God has given us a life as a gift and in taking
our lives we violate His right to determine the duration of our earthly existence.
It's not suicide itself, but the attitude towards it
Dante isn't punishing the act itself but a specific frame of mind in which suicide was
Pier delle Vigne (1190-1249)
o of humble origin; rose to distinction in Emperor Frederick II's working variously as a
judge, ambassador, chancellor, and private secretary
o at the height of his power, Pier was Frederick's most intimate advisor
o like his imperial master, Pier was a poet
o Suddenly fell into disgrace, arrested at Cremona, thrown into prison, and blinded
o killed himself by dashing his brain out against a wall
o it was a general opinion at the tie that he was the victim of a calumnious accusations of
the part of those jealous of his influence with the emperor
Pier was the opposite of Jesus
o he passively let himself be killed, it's pushing away guilt compared to Jesus
The Damned
(Latin contra + patior = "suffer the opposite")
Punishment by a process either resembling or contrasting with the sin itself. Often hideously
Concerned with reputations on earth
never directly admit guilt or blame
obsess over one event
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