ENG150Y1 Lecture Notes - Middle Ages

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Published on 21 Apr 2013
School
UTSG
Department
English
Course
ENG150Y1
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of 2
Dante, Inferno lecture 1
- Dante was considered so important that it deserved a commentary.
- Before reading the poem, distinguish between Dante the Pilgrim (the one going through the
journey) and Dante the Poet (the author-telling his story). It’s important since this is a story
how Dante the Pilgrim became Dante the author.
- Dante the poet always presents this journey as real.
- The pilgrims view is confused but the poets view is comprehensive.
- In Aenied the transformation happens to a character, but in Dante, it is happening to HIMSELF,
he is trying to understand oneself and write ones story.
- Dante is reliving the experience while he wrote the poem. “I am going to overcome my fear”
- The poem exists with the story of the pilgrim and story of the narrator.
- An aspect of this poetic conversion has to do with how one has this experience on attaining a
new perspective on oneself.
- Dante founds himself in dark woods and he starts walking towards the sun but on the way up
the mountain he meets 3 obstacles. Leopard, the lion and the sheep. The sheep bothers him the
most which represents the desire for more.
- Dante will need a guide in this journey since to overcome the will cannot be done with just you.
You will need an outside force. It is not come great Christian thinker it is a pagan and it is Virgil.
When he introduces himself, he doesn’t say he is Virgil, he describes himself in elliptical ways.
- Dante is signaling his transformation in his poem.
- Aeneas says are you a mortal or are you a goddess and Dante says something similar when he
first meets Virgil.
- Great poets of ancient Rome. Virgil smiles when Dante meets the other great poets.
- Dante suggests there are 6 major poets in the world and he includes him
- Dante says no serious work can be done in the language people are speaking. Everything was
done in Latin but Inferno in Italian and Dante is the first person in the middle ages to call himself
a poet.
- Pay attention to how justice and mercy plays itself, especially divine justice. Gods plan in which
he ministers reward and justice. It is one of the most difficult aspects in Inferno.
- “Justness moved my maker on high”
- Justness is paired with mercy in the way Christianity conceives divine relationship with human
needs.
- Beatrice’s call for Virgil to go help Dante is also an act of mercy. He is experiencing mercy that he
doesn’t deserve.
- Virgil was born before Christianity.
- They live in eternal longing; they know what heaven is but cannot have it. That is their
punishment.
- In the opening scene with the 3 beasts, they stand for certain sins. When Virgil is introduced, he
is introduced as a historical human being “I was born ___, I lived in a particular time”
- Virgil is not like these beasts.
- Dante distinguishes 2 types of allegory:
- Allegory of the poets: fictive surface level meaning and abstract truth content
- Allegory of the Theologian: historical sense, typological sense, moral sense and analogical sense.
- What Dante is doing in Inferno seems to be using divine allegory as a model of his own poetry.
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Document Summary

Dante was considered so important that it deserved a commentary. Before reading the poem, distinguish between dante the pilgrim (the one going through the journey) and dante the poet (the author-telling his story). It"s important since this is a story how dante the pilgrim became dante the author. Dante the poet always presents this journey as real. The pilgrims view is confused but the poets view is comprehensive. In aenied the transformation happens to a character, but in dante, it is happening to himself, he is trying to understand oneself and write ones story. Dante is reliving the experience while he wrote the poem. An aspect of this poetic conversion has to do with how one has this experience on attaining a. The poem exists with the story of the pilgrim and story of the narrator. new perspective on oneself.